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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 15

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0120

Author: Hartley, David
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-09-06

From David Hartley

[salute] My Dear Sir

I told you last night that I felt myself unwell with the Commencement of a complaint on my breast. I am this morning obliged to be bled. I shd be very much obliged to you if you wd be so good as to prevail upon your Collegues to favour me with a visit this morning as I really cannot come out myself. The sooner the better, because I hope with bleeding & one day’s nursing that I may get off for England tomorrow.2 I am very impatient to take that journey wch I hope may contribute to lay foundations for good things in future. I am Dear Sir / Your much obliged friend / & humble Servt
[signed] D Hartley
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “To His Excellency / J Adams Esqr &c &c &c.” Filmed at [1783].
1. This date is derived from JA’s 6 Sept. letter acknowledging Hartley’s letter of that morning reporting his “Indisposition” (private owner, 1962).
2. Hartley left Paris on the morning of 8 Sept. and reached London on the evening of the 11th (Hartley to Benjamin Franklin, 7 Sept., MiU-C:Hartley Papers; London Gazette, 9–13 Sept.), but see also Charles Storer’s letter of 13 Sept., below.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0121

Author: American Peace Commissioners
Recipient: Hartley, David
Date: 1783-09-07

The American Peace Commissioners to David Hartley

[salute] Sir,

We have the Honour of transmitting herewith inclosed an Extract of a Resolution of Congress of the 1st May last, which we have just received.
You will perceive from it that we may daily expect a Commission in due Form for the Purposes mentioned in it, and we assure you of our readiness to enter upon the Business, whenever you think proper.
We have the Honor to be with great Respect and Esteem / Sir, / Your most obedient / humble Servants
[signed] John Adams
[signed] B Franklin
[signed] John Jay
RC (PRO:FO 4, 2:224); internal address: “Honble D Hartley Esqr.” LbC-Tr (Adams Papers); APM Reel 103.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0122

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1783-09-08

To the President of Congress

[salute] Sir

Yesterday morning, Mr. Jay informed me, that Dr. Franklin had recieved, & soon afterwards the Dr. put into my hands the Resolution of Congress of the first of May, ordering Commission and Instructions to be prepared to those Gentlemen and myself, for making a Treaty of Commerce with Great Britain. This Resolution, with your Excellency’s Letter, arrived very seasonably, as Mr. Hartley was setting off for London, with Information from Us that our Powers were executed.1
I am very sensible of the Honor that is done me by this Resolution of Congress, & of the great Importance of the Business committed to our Care, & shall not therefore hesitate to take a part in it.2 I can attend to this Business, and at the same time have some Care of your Affairs in Holland— And in Case the present Loan should be full, in the Course of the next Winter I can open a new one, either by going to Amsterdam, or by having the Obligations sent to me, in Paris to be signed. In this way there will be no additional Expence to the Publick, as I have informed Mr. Dumas that there must be no Expence made at the Hague on my Account, or on account of Congress, but that all his Expences must be borne by himself, or he must at least settle them with Congress. I have so much regard for this Gentleman, and such an opinion of his Worth & Merit, that I cannot but recommend him upon this Occasion to Congress for the Commission of Secretary of that Legation: But as œconomy is & ought to be carefully attended to, I presume not to point out the Salary which will be proper. There are so many ways of pillaging public Men in Europe, that it will be difficult for Congress to concieve the Expences which are unavoidable in these Countries.— If the principle of œconomy should restrain Congress from sending Ministers to Vienna, Petersbourg, Copenhagen & Lisbon, they will probably send a Commission to Paris to negotiate Treaties there—because I think it will appear to be of great Importance, both in a political & commercial light, to have Treaties with those Powers. If this should be the Case, as three of Us shall be now obliged to attend at Paris the tedious Negotiation with England, we can all at the same time & with the same Expence attend to the Negotiations with the other Powers, which will afford to all an Opportunity of throwing in any hints which may occur for the { 266 } public good, & will have a much better Appearance in the Eyes of Europe & America. I do not hesitate therefore to request, that if such a Commission, or Commissions should be sent, that all your Ministers in Europe may be inserted in it. If the Arrangement should make any difficulty in America, it will make none with me— For altho’ I think there was good Reason for the Order in which the Names stand in the new Commission for Peace, & in the Resolution for a new Commission for a Treaty of Commerce; that Reason will not exist in any future Commission.3
Mr. Hartley’s Powers are sufficient to go through the Negotiations with Us, and I suppose it will be chiefly conducted at Paris— Yet we may all think it proper to make a Tour to London for a few Weeks, especially in Case any material Obstacle should arise. We are told, that such a Visit would have a good Effect at Court and with the Nation—At least, it seems clear it would do no Harm.
With the greatest Respect & Esteem, I have / the honor to be, / Sir, / your most obedient and / most humble Servant.
[signed] John Adams.4
RC in John Thaxter’s hand (PCC, No. 84, V, f. 189–191); internal address: “His Excellency / Elias Boudinot Esqr / President of Congress.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 108.
1. The president’s letter enclosing Congress’ resolution of 1 May was dated 16 June, above. For Congress’ failure to implement the resolution, see note 2 to that letter. In referring to the commissioners’ powers as being executed, JA means that with the signing of the definitive treaty their authority to negotiate with Britain had lapsed. The arrival of the resolution led JA to write to AA once on 7 Sept. and twice more on the 10th, asking her in each to sail for Europe as soon as possible since he would be unable to return to America before the following spring (AFC, 5:236–239; Adams Papers).
2. JA felt honored by the resolution because it directly responded to his 5 Feb. letter to the president of Congress asserting the need for an Anglo-American commercial treaty and protesting the revocation of his commission to negotiate one (vol. 14:238–245).
3. Alert to the niceties of rank, title, and etiquette by which social relations were regulated in Europe, JA believed that he would have been disgraced there if Congress, having revoked his independent commissions to negotiate treaties of peace and commerce with Britain, had not placed his name first in subsequent joint commissions. See JA’s letter to Jonathan Jackson of 8 Nov. 1782, vol. 14:43–44. For a more detailed explanation of his views regarding the order of names in the past and subsequent commissions, see JA’s 10 Sept. 1783 letter to Elbridge Gerry, below.
4. In JA’s hand.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0123

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1783-09-08

To the President of Congress

[salute] Sir

As the Resolution of Congress of the first of May, has determined it to be my Duty to remain in Europe at least another Winter I shall { 267 } be obliged to say many things to your Excellency by Letter, which I hoped to have had the honour of saying upon the Floor of your house. Some of these Things may be Thought at first of little Consequence; but Time and Inquiry and Consideration will Shew them to have Weight, of this sort is the subject of this Letter.
The Views and Designs, the Intrigues and Projects of Courts, are let out by insensible degrees and with infinite Art and Delicacy in the Gazettes. These Channels of Communications are very Numerous, and they are artificially complicated in such a manner, that very few Persons are able to trace the Sources from whence Insinuations and Projects flow. The English Papers are an engine, by which every thing is scattered all over the world. They are open and free, the eyes of Mankind are fixed upon them. They are taken by all Courts and all Politicians and by almost all Gazetteers. of these Papers the French Emissaries in London even in Time of War, but especially in Time of Peace make a very great use. They insert in them Things which they wish to have circulated far and wide— Some of the Paragraphs inserted in them, will do to circulate through all Europe, and some will not, in the Courier de l’Europe— This is the most artfull Paper in the World. it is continually accommodating between the French and English Ministry. if it should offend the English essentially, the Ministry would prevent its publication. if it should Sin against the French unpardonably, the Ministry would instantly stop its Circulation. It is therefore continually under the Influence of the French Ministers, whose underworkers have many Things translated from the English Papers, and many others inserted in it originally, both to the End that they may be circulated over the World, and particularly, that they may be seen by the King of France, who reads this Paper constantly. from the English Papers and the Courier de l’Europe, many things are transferred into various other Gazettes, the Courier du Bas Rhin, the Gazette des Deux Ponts, the Courier d’Avignon and the Gazette des Pays Bas. The Gazettes of Leyden and Amsterdam are Sometimes used for the more grave and solid Objects, those of Deux Ponts and Avignon for popular Topicks the small Talk of Coffee Houses, and still smaller and lower Circles. All these Papers and many others discover a perpetual Complaisance for the French Ministry, because they are always in their Power so entirely that if an offensive Paragraph appears, the Entrance and Distribution of the Gazette may be stopped by an order from Court, by which the Gazetteer loses the sale of his Paper in France which is a great pecuniary Object.
{ 268 }
Whoever shall hereafter come to Europe, in any publick Employment, and take in the Papers above enumerated, will acknowledge his Obligations to me for mentioning them. He will find them a constant Source of Amusement, & sometimes of usefull Discoveries. I may hereafter Possibly, entertain Congress with some curious Speculations from these Gazettes, which have all their attention fixed upon us, & very often honour us with their animadversions, Sometimes with their Grave Councils, but oftener still with very sly and subtle Insinuations.
With great Respect and Esteem, I have the / honour to be, Sir, Your most obedient and / most humble Servant.
[signed] John Adams.1
RC in JQA’s hand (PCC, No. 84, V, f. 193–195); internal address: “His Excellency Elias Boudinot Esqr / President of Congress.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 108.
1. In JA’s hand.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0124

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Gerry, Elbridge
Date: 1783-09-08

To Elbridge Gerry

[salute] My dear Mr. Gerry,

Yesterday morning, Dr. Franklin produced a Resolution of Congress, that A. F. & J. should be joined in a Commission to treat of Commerce with Great Britain. This is well, & I hope you will pursue the plan & send another Commission to the same Persons to treat with Joseph, Catharine, Denmark & Portugal. Jay & I do admirably well with the old Man. We go on very smoothly, & make him know what is right & do it, for absolutely he does not know of himself.
If you appoint a Secretary, will you let it be Thaxter? He has richly merited it. You need not give him a thousand a year, as you did Carmichael, Dana & W. T. Franklin—five hundred a year would do— But with less it would be impossible to live. Three hundred a year is really as little as a private Clerk can live upon with Decency, even when he has his Rent; his Board, Washing, Lodging, Coach when he wants it, &ca, in the Family of a Minister. I hint at Mr. Thaxter, because I think him from Experience the fittest for it— But this is the Affair of Congress, & they must do as they judge best. I hope none will complain of Expence, when it is necessary & reasonable. Compute how much my Residence in Holland has cost you— not more than five thousand pounds— Indeed it has not cost you { 269 } any thing, for you must have been at the same Expence for me as Minister of Peace, if I had lain idle at Paris. Compute next, how many Millions of Dollars the Capture of Burgoyne or Cornwallis cost you—nay how many Millions sterling? Now I say, and I can demonstrate, that the Negotiation in Holland advanced the American Cause more than the Capture of either of those Armies did. If Congress had indulged more Confidence in their Negotiations & Negotiators, they would have made more Advantage of them. I am as parsimonious of public Money, in principle & by habit, as any Man ought to be— But there is an œconomy at the Spigot & a Profusion at the Bung sometimes. Parsimony should not prevent your finishing your European System, by which you may save twenty Millions sterling in a future War. I am clear in this opinion, that, by the Expence of a few thousand pounds in Europe for two or three years to come, you will save many many Millions both in Commerce, Negotiation and War in future years. One thing more I beg may be attended to— The French dont wish you should have Ministers in Europe— They wish you may employ their little Agents to solicit for you every thing— They will therefore probably fall in with the Shoestring Ideas, in order to take you in, and secretly foment the Cry against Expence. Timeo Danaos, et dona ferentes.1 I dont think it worth while to send Ambassadors, but would continue Ministers Plenipotentiary. But I really think the Error would be less expensive in the end, to send Ambassadors to every great Court in Europe, with Salaries of six thousand sterling a year, than to recal all your Ministers, & appoint Residents only with one thousand a year, at present, & for two or three years to come. I beg you would not think of sending Residents only to the great Courts— It would sink the Reputation of our Country infinitely more than recalling all your Ministers, & sending no Residents at all. In Europe, Appearance is so decidedly necessary, that nothing can be done without it.— Your Resident could keep no Company with Ambassadors or Ministers— They would be the Scorn & Ridicule of every Commis in Office— These Commis have sixty thousand Livres a year, besides all their innumerable & unknown Perquisites.
When I was first in Holland, I used to make Visits with one Footman behind my Coach. The plainest Republicans, the severest of them all, came to me to remonstrate. Mr. Adams, Said they, you must never make a Visit with less than two Servants in Livery behind your Coach. You can neither keep up your own Reputation with our People, nor that of your Country, nor our Reputation who { 270 } associate with you & call you the American Minister, without it. “C’est trop en Bourgeois”2 This is the Fact.— It is seen and felt by every one.
The foreign Ministers at European Courts may be divided into three Classes. First.— Noblemen of high Rank and great Fortune in their Countries, who have six, eight or ten thousand Pounds from their Courts—some of whom are supposed to spend as much more out of their private Fortunes. These are commonly more fit for Parade than any thing else, or have particular Reasons for wishing to live out of their own Countries, or whose Courts have such Reasons for wishing them away. Secondly— Others who have smaller Salaries, but still handsome ones, & who spend twice as much, which they acquire by Speculations in Stocks, by making use of their Prerogatives in saving Duties upon Goods, even by secret Connections with Smugglers, by gaming & many other ways equally unfit to mention or suspect. All these Practices have been used, & perhaps are still— But Congress ought to execrate & condemn, in the most decided manner, every such thing in their Ministers. Thirdly— There are others, who have honorable Salaries, spend them honorably & are industrious & attentive to the Rights and Honor of their Country and their Masters.— Such and such only ought to be the American Ministers. The present Allowance to your Ministers, with an addition of 300. a year for a Clerk, is in my opinion as little as will possibly bear.— For besides all the expensive Articles of House, Coach, Livery Servants, Domestick Servants, Presents to the Servants at Courts, and the Pilferings of Servants, Tradesmen, Shopkeepers &ca., a great & inevitable deduction, your Ministers must keep an handsome Table, suitable to entertain genteel Company at all times, & great Company very often.3
Let me beg of you, my Friend, to write to my Wife, and advise her, whether it is prudent for her to come to me or not this Fall, or next Spring— Of this you will make no Words with any one, as it is not necessary to trouble others with the Cares of my Family.4
With great Esteem & sincere Affection, / your Friend.
[signed] John Adams.5
RC in John Thaxter’s hand (private owner, 1978); internal address: “Mr. Gerry.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 106.
1. I fear the Greeks even when they bear gifts (Virgil, Aeneid, Book II, line 49).
2. It is too common.
3. In the spring of 1783 the “happy arrival of peace” and the “reduced state of public finances” inspired Congress to take a fresh look at the arrangements of the department of foreign affairs, including the rank and { 271 } salary given to America’s overseas representatives. But it was a 11 July letter from the Mass. General Court complaining about congressional extravagance in the grant of military pensions and civil service salaries that for almost a year spurred Congress to explore decreasing the expense of national administration through the elimination of offices and the reduction of pay. Congress considered but ultimately rejected the idea of sending no ministers to foreign courts “except on extraordinary occasions.” It entertained multiple proposals to lower the salaries of ministers, set at £2,500 sterling, or $11,111.11, per year in Oct. 1779, before it settled on a new annual figure of $9,000 in May 1784 (JCC, 15:1145; 24:312, 483; 25:571–572, 577, 582–585, 606–609, 612–613, 825, 967; 26:125–127, 342–343, 349–350, 352–354; 27:367).
4. In the recipient’s copy this paragraph is crossed out, but by whom it is not known. It was omitted from the extract that was misdated 9 Sept. 1783 and published in Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 6:684–685. Gerry referred to the first sentence in his 24 Nov. letter to AA and told her that “I cannot think it advisable this fall as it is almost elapsed and a winters passage would be extremely disagreeable as well as dangerous” (AFC, 5:275).
5. In JA’s hand.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0125

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Samuel
Date: 1783-09-10

To Samuel Adams

[salute] My dear Friend,

We were very happy to have the definitive Treaty signed, altho’ We could obtain no Improvement Amendment or Alteration. The English had got so bewitched again, & began to appear to obtain such strange hopes, from the proceedings of the Army & the difference of Sentiments between Congress & some of the States, & discovered such an Inclination to sign with France & Spain without Us, that We were glad to get the Ratifications of the Provisional Treaty exchanged, & then to sign it over again for a definitive Treaty. We could do no better and were afraid of doing worse.— We have just recd. a fresh Authority to treat of Commerce with Britain. We may possibly go over to London in October for three or four Weeks, & hope to succeed tolerably, altho’ some very improper Characters have an Influence with the present Ministry. It remains to form Treaties with the two Empires, with Denmark, Portugal, Sardinia & Naples, as well as all the Barbary Powers. These things should all be done as soon as may be conveniently. If Congress should think fit to send Ministers to all or any of these, very well— But it does not appear to be necessary, & therefore they may think, in order to save Expence of sending Powers to one, or more, or all of their present Ministers in Europe.— I think if they send such Powers at all, they ought to send them to all, at least to those who are obliged to act together in Paris or London in the Commercial Negotiation with G. Britain.
Mr. Dana will soon be with you, & it is of great Importance you should send him forthwith to Congress. He can give great light in { 272 } our foreign Affairs. I recd. & answered your Letters by the Viscount and Marquiss & have written you since several times, but have no Letter from you since that time.1
You are happy with your Family, to whom please to present my Respects— Alass when shall I be so with mine. I had rather for my own personal Enjoyment be a select Man of Braintree, than Ambassador at any Court in Europe.
Mr. Jay has, I confess, disappointed me much—for altho’ I always thought him a consciencious Man, I did not expect from him so much Wisdom, Intrepidity, Perseverance and Disinterestedness, as I have found in him
Mr. Laurens has been little with Us. He is expected here daily, in his way to his Brother, in the South of France, whose precarious state will I believe detain Mr. Laurens in Europe another Winter.2
With great Regard, my dear Sir, your / Friend & Servant.
LbC in John Thaxter’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “Honble. Saml. Adams Esqr / President of the Senate”; APM Reel 106.
1. Samuel Adams wrote two letters to JA on 18 Dec. 1781, the first carried by the Marquis de Lafayette and the second by the Vicomte de Noailles (vol. 12:149–152). JA acknowledged only the former letter in his answer of 2 March 1782 (same, p. 282–284). He subsequently wrote to his second cousin on 15 June, 19, 29 Aug., and 5 April 1783 (vol. 13:125–126, 252–253, 402–403; 14:386).
2. Henry Laurens’ younger brother James had retired to Le Vigan in the south of France in fragile health in 1778. He died there on 25 Jan. 1784. Henry Laurens passed through Paris in Sept. 1783 and was at Le Vigan in early October, but by the date of his brother’s death he had returned to London (Laurens, Papers, 1:xxxix; 14:309–310; 16:343, 344, 372, 373).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0126

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1783-09-10

To the President of Congress

As I am to remain in Europe for sometime longer, I beg Leave to take a cursory view of what appears necessary or expedient to be further done in Europe, for I conceive it to be not only the Right but the Duty of a foreign Minister to advise his Sovereign according to his Lights and Judgment, although the more [extensive Information], and Superior Wisdom of the Sovereign may frequently [see] Cause to pursue a different Conduct.
With Spain no doubt Congress will negotiate by a particular Minister either the present One or another, and perhaps it would be proper that the Same should treat with Naples. [With the] two Empires, Prussia, Denmark, Portugal and Sardinia and [Tuscany], I humbly conceive it might be [proper to negotiate], and perhaps with { 273 } Hamborough, but there are other Powers with whom it is more necessary to have Treaties than it ought to be, I mean Morocco, Algiers, Tunis & Tripoli.
I presume that Congress will not think it expedient to be at the Expence of Sending Ministers to all these Powers, [if to any— Perhaps in the present state] of our Finances it may not be worth while to send any. Yet the present Time is the best to negotiate with all.— I Submit it to consideration then whether it is not adviseable to send, a Commission to Such Ministers as you judge proper, with full Powers to treat with all, to the Ministers now in Paris, or to any others. but I humbly conceive that if Powers to treat with all, or any of these states, are sent to any of your Ministers now here, [it would be for] the publick Good that they should be sent to all.— if Congress can find Funds to treat with the Barbary Powers, the [Ministers here are the best] situated, for they should apply to the Court of Versailles and their High Mightinesses, in the first Place that orders should be sent to their Consuls according to Treaties to assist Us. Ministers here may carry on this Negotiation by Letters or may be empowered to send an Agent if necessary.1
I have no private Interest in this business. My Salary will be the same my [Expences] more and Labour much increased by such a Measure: But as it is of publick Importance, I think that no unnecessary Delicacies should restrain me from suggesting these Hints to Congress. Whatever their Determination may be will be Satisfactory to me.
I have the Honour to be with the greatest Respect / your Excellencys most obedient & most humble / servant.
[signed] John Adams.
RC (PCC, No. 84, V, f. 197–198); internal address: “His Excellency Elias Boudinot Esqr. / President of Congress.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 106. Text lost due to illegibility has been supplied from the LbC.
1. Article 8 of the 1778 Franco-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce required France to use its “good Offices and Interposition” with the Barbary powers on behalf of the United States (Miller, Treaties, 2:8–9). But Art. 23 of the 1782 Dutch-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce was much more explicit in requiring the Netherlands to employ its local consuls to assist the United States in its negotiations with the Barbary powers (vol. 13:369).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0127

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Cooper, Samuel
Date: 1783-09-10

To Samuel Cooper

[salute] Dear Sir,

I congratulate you upon the Ratification of the Provisional & the Signature of the definitive Treaty. You enjoy in America a pleasure, { 274 } which we in Europe are deprived of, that of seeing our Country at Peace, after all the cruel Cares of the War. If we can but get the Fisheries agoing and the West India Trade properly opened, we shall soon see our Country wear the face of Joy, and abound in plenty & prosperity— I hope too in Tranquility & Liberty.
The Articles respecting the Refugees, however, will be an unpleasant subject of Controversy for some time. The stipulations ought to be sacredly fulfilled, & the Recommendations at least decently treated and calmly considered. Errors on the side of forgiveness & Indulgence will be of the safest kind.
But the greatest difficulty remaining is, to perfect the Union of the States without endangering their Liberties. This is a knotty Problem— Yet I think the dangers greater from Disunion than too strict an Union at present. It is a great question too, how the Trade of the Continent shall be regulated, I mean their foreign Commerce. Can we maintain our Union? Can we treat with foreign Nations? Can we oblige them to any thing like Equity and Reciprocity in our Communication with them, unless our foreign Commerce is under one Direction—unless all the States lay on the same & no other Duties, & make the same and no other Prohibitions?
With great Regard, dear Sir, I am / your Friend & Servant
LbC in John Thaxter’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “Dr Cooper”; APM Reel 106.
1. JA wrote similar letters on this date to Richard Cranch and Cotton Tufts (AFC, 5:239–242).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0128

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Dumas, C. W. F.
Date: 1783-09-10

To C. W. F. Dumas

[salute] Dear Sir

It has ever been my intention to come in Person to the Hague, and take Leave of their High Mightinesses, with all the Respect in my Power, before my departure for America. it is still my design. If it is the usage of their High Mightinesses, as you Say it is, to make a Present of a Chain upon the occasion, it will be very agreable to me to accept it, and in the Language of my Countrymen I hope it will prove the Chain of perpetual Peace and invariable Friendship, and brighten more and more with Time.
We have recd this Week a Resolution of Congress by which it appears that Your Servant, Dr Franklin & Mr Jay, are to be associated in a new Commission to make a Treaty of Commerce with Great { 275 } Britain, which will be a Work of Some time and oblige Us all perhaps to go to London. I cannot expect therefore to embark for America this Year, perhaps not before next sum[er,] This is a little Triste, to me, but I must make the [best] of it.—
I Shall probably be continued in my Pos[t at] the Hague, untill there is a general settlement in Co[ngress,] of our foreign Affairs.— Perhaps We may have all [Liberty] to return home next Year, afte[r W]e shall have finished off, a few Things which remain, but as it is unsettled as yet, I may be still destined to remain at the Hague.— I can take no Resolution nor form any Plan while Things remain at home so loose. I could do more in America in a Month towards settling Things than I can do here in four Years. Yet I cannot go home without orders or rather against orders, when Things of so much Importance remain in Europe to be finished entrusted in Part to my Care.— I may yet bring my Family to the Hague and become a Dutchman for what I know, or I may go home in the Month of March. I can form no Guess.—
I congratulate you, on the final Conclusion of the Peace and I think I may congratulate our Friends too.— They have gained in their domestic Liberties, they have gained in their national Independence among the Powers of Europe, and they have opened to themselves American Commerce, although they have lost a little Territory and a Point or two by the War.1 The Damages done to their Trade, and all their Expences, make [a] small figure in Comparison of those of France & England. [So] that I think We may say they are the better for the War [alt]hough not so much so as they might and ought to [ha]ve been.
Let me beg of you, to make all the Inquiries concerning [ou]r Loan, which you can in Prudence, and write to Congress or Mr Morris upon the subject.—2 You would do well to turn the most of your Though[ts this] Way for there is nothing now of so much Importance to Us.
I am Surprized that the late Proceedings of the Army and the difference of Sentiment between Congress and the states instead of lessening the Credit of America, do not increase it. Are there not the manifest symptoms of a brave, enlightened and high Spirited People, jealous of every danger to their Liberties, and determined to support them against every Error in Judgment, even of their own Army their own General and their own Congress. dont you see that all these are obliged to give Way before the superiour Understanding of the Body of the People.?
{ 276 }
My Respects to your good Family, and believe me your / Friend and humble servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (DLC:Dumas Papers); addressed: “Monsieur / Monsieur C. W. F Dumas / à l’hotel des Etats Unis de l’Amerique / La Haye”; endorsed: “Paris 10e. 7ber. 1783 / E. Mr. J. Adams.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 106. Text lost due to a torn manuscript has been supplied from the LbC.
1. JA likely had not seen the text of the Anglo-Dutch preliminary peace treaty, which he received as an enclosure in a 12 Sept. letter from Gerard Brantsen (to the president of Congress, 13 Sept., calendared, below). But he knew generally of its provisions, most notably the loss of the Dutch East India Company’s establishment at Negapatam (now Nagapattinam) on India’s Coromandel Coast. The Dutch blamed lack of French support for the loss (vol. 14:235–238).
2. For Dumas’ efforts regarding the loan, see his letter of 18 Sept., and note 2, below.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0129

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Gerry, Elbridge
Date: 1783-09-10

To Elbridge Gerry

[salute] My dear Friend,

As to the Trade with the West Indies, I do not think we can hope to revive it upon more favorable Terms than those before the War. If we can be admitted to carry Cargoes to G. Britain & Ireland, or G. Britain alone from the Islands, giving Bonds with Sureties to land them in some Port of those Kingdoms, it will be all we can expect. If Congress, are of the same Mind, they had better empower Us to conclude upon those Terms— To admit Us to carry Sugars and all the produce of the West Indies to other parts of Europe or to North America, without restriction, would indeed be giving up all their West India Trade in a manner.
I beg you would make a point of putting Jay and me into the Commission for treating with Denmark, Portugal and the two Empires— Place Franklin at the head of the Commission if you will. It was perfectly right to put me first in the two Commissions, in which I came out to Europe sole— But it will be now right to put Franklin first in this Commission, provided he is chosen first, or has most Votes, according to your common Rule. As the Reason, which placed me foremost in two Commissions, now ceases, it will not be amiss to follow the rule of Seniority of Ministers— If you had pursued your plan of confiding one business to one Minister, all would have been well—but as you have broke the rule, & joined a Number in two Commissions, you ought to join them in all which are to be executed in the same place. None will have a right to complain, and any other rule has ill effects in Europe and America.1
But this is not all. This method of smuggling Treaties into { 277 } Franklin’s Hands alone, is contrived by Vergennes on purpose to throw slights upon Jay and me, & to cheat you out of your Carrying Trade.
I beg it may be considered, that it ought to be insisted on by Us, with Portugal, Denmark, Germany & Russia, that American Productions, imported into their Dominions in American Vessels, navigated by American Seamen, ought to pay no higher Duties than if imported in the Ships of those Countries. This will never be insisted on, unless you put Jay & me into the Commission, or give it as a positive Instruction.
But you ought to have some Sympathy for the feelings of your Ministers, and more for their Reputations: This is hint enough for you. I beg you to write me. Our Affairs will all end extremely well, if we are supported— But if Franklin is suffered to go on with that low Cunning, and mean Craft, with which he has always acted, & by which he has done so much Mischief, the public will suffer.
your Friend.
[signed] John Adams.2
RC in John Thaxter’s hand (MHi:Hoar Autograph Coll.); internal address: “Mr. Gerry.”; endorsed: “10 Sepr 83.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 107.
1. See JA’s earlier, less-detailed comments regarding the order of names in past and future commissions, in his first letter of 8 Sept. to the president of Congress, above.
2. In JA’s hand.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0130

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Gordon, William
Date: 1783-09-10

To William Gordon

[salute] Sir

I have recd yours of 28 June & thank you for the information it contains— In all domestick Disputes I wish our countrymen, may moderate their passions, & manifest as much mutual forbearance as possible. I dread the course of our elections if parties prevail. Every publick Man is in a dangerous & perplexed Situation at present, & as few obstacles should be thrown in his way & as much Candour & Indulgence shewn him as possible. I have had too many Obstructions contrived for me, & although I have always got the better of them, hitherto, I have felt the smart of them too sensibly, not to wish every other well meaning man excused from them.
There will be a variety of foreign interests in our Country, & We must be upon our Guard against them all. We must all think seriously of preserving our Union, which is of indispensible Importance to Us.
I am sorry my Friend Dalton declines going to Congress. More { 278 } depends upon good Men at that great Wheel, than our People at the Northward are aware. That is the principal Place to guard against foreign Projects, which will address themselves sometimes to aristocratical, sometimes to democratical, & sometimes to military Passions & Prejudices. Nothing will come amis to carry a Point. Is the[. . . .]r1 that shoestring stinginess even may be stimulated, to get every honest man out of Europe, & leave only [. . .] at a certain Court.— Timeo danaos2 The great Point has been & will be to chicane honest Men out o[f Europ]e. I don’t care how soon it prevails against me, but I would have the rest preserved & others sent.— I have [s]een so many of the curses of low cunning & mean Craft, that I begin to think Homer wrong in not damning to Infamy the Character of Ulisses.
I hope that private honesty will not be violated in any debt, & that as much moderation may be shewn towards the Tories as possible. The Stipulations should be sacred, & the Recommendations at least treated with decency & seriously considered. I cannot help saying I wish they could be complied with.— We could not obtain the Peace without them.— When I agreed, that Congress should recommend, I was sincere, I then wished & still wish that the Recommendations may be agreed to. This is unpopular no doubt, But Treaties are solemn Things, in which there should be no mental Reservations. When N. York & Penobscot are evacuated, the People may be cooler.— It will be an ugly Bone of Contention.— I always dreaded it, & would have avoided it, if it had been possible, but it was not.—
Congress have resolved, that your humble Servant, Dr F & Mr J make a Treaty of Commerce with England. I hope they will resolve that the same Men should make others with Denmark, Portugal & the two Empires. How long one or the other may detain me I know not.— F. is trying to get appointed alone to treat with Denmark & Portugal, & unfair means have been used to assist him. But I hope he will be disappointed. I am persuaded a bad Treaty will be made if he is not.— He is not too wise or knowing, not to stand in need of the Advice & Reflections & Information of others. When we are all here, why should We not be all employed?— Business has not been better done by him alone, than by others alone; nor by him alone, than by him in Conjunction with others. Jay & I have no Interest, our Salaries are no larger, our Care is more & our Expenses more for being in more Business. But this smuggling of Treaties is intended, to deprive Us of Advantages that We should endeavour to { 279 } secure. The carrying Trade should be cherished by every fair means, & this will be hurt by the Treaties if they are not more attended to than they will be by Dr F. if he makes them alone.
Your Friend & Servant.
Tr (NN:Gerry-Townsend Papers). The RC of this letter has not been found, but William Gordon copied it into his 24 Dec. letter to Elbridge Gerry. The version of the letter printed here is taken from that source. Some loss of text where the seal was removed.
1. Approximately three words missing.
2. JA means that the French would seek to have Benjamin Franklin left as the only American diplomat in Europe so that they could retain their influence over American policy. See JA’s 8 Sept. letter to Elbridge Gerry, above, for his use of the full quotation from Virgil.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0131

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1783-09-10

To James Warren

[salute] My dear Friend,

I received with great Pleasure yours of 24. June. The Approbation of my Countrymen is a great Pleasure and Support to me but that approbation does not extend I fancy so far as you and several others seem to imagine. if it does I am unfit for their Purposes, having neither Health nor Patience, for the arduous and trying Duties of their first Magistrate. an honour too high and a situation too delicate for me.
A Residence in the Massachusetts is the desire of my soul, and the only one where I can enjoy Life. I still hope to pass, my Evening, hastening on a pace in that Country: But Congress have tied me again to Europe by a new Commission so honourable to me, as to have really touched my heart.— Upon a very long Letter of mine they have founded this Commission and have owned it, in their Journals.1 Whoever shall compare the Letter and Commission together, will own that it does me infinite honour, and ought to silence forever every Complaint on my part for what is past. I am now indifferent who goes to England, but still think the public Good requires that some one should go.
We shall do our Utmost Endeavour to Secure to Mass. & N. Hampshire a Way to Market for their ships through the West India Islands. But N. Hampshire and Rhode Island too, should support in Congress, those Men to whom if to any body they must be indebted, for this Benefit, and not Sacrifice them to the Vanity of another, who will take little Pains about it, who is afraid to think in the day, { 280 } for fear he should not sleep at night. whose whole Time and thoughts S[eem] to be taken up, with little clandestime Projects to gratify his private Vanity and Secure to himself, and his Name exclusive Reputation, at the Expence even of others who do real Business for the Benefit of the public and who think and act wholly for its good.
our Navigation will be materially affected, by our Treaties with Denmark and Portugal, which Dr Franklin has been secretly contriving to get the exclusive Management of, as he did that of sweeden. N.H. & R. Island shd be upon their Guard, and join others in this Business who think a little about it.—
Mr Dana will soon be with you— He can give you very entertaining and instructive Histories not of Voyages and Travels alone, but of Negotiations. His defeat, comes from the same source, very secret and cunning, but very malicious to every Man and every Project, calculated for the public Good. one Man seems to have a positive Spight against every public service, that he does not exclusively perform himself.—2 He opposes it and persecutes the Agent in it with a Malice and Rancour that is astonishing. I could have formed no Idea, that Jealousy Envy and Vanity could have gone such Lengths.
I think our Country should form Treaties with the two Empires, as well as Denmark and Portugal. to these should be added, Morocco, Algiers, Tunis & Tripoli—perhaps too the Kings of Sardinia, and Naples. one Commission, may be enough for all these Purposes, in order to save Expence. But this Commission ought not to be given to one alone at Paris when three are obliged to reside there on another Negotiation. We should be all joined in it, and When We have compleated the Business We may all go home.
My best Respects and kindest Regards to your Family. My Friend Mr Otis, Seems to have been permitted to see the Building finished which he framed, and then taken away in a manner equally happy and distinguished.— He was a favourite of Nature in his Genius and in his Death.— The History of our Country I hope will do Justice to this great Character.
With great Esteem, your Frd & sert
[signed] J. Adams
RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); internal address: “General Warren.”; endorsed: “Mr J. Adams / Lettr Sepr 10. 83.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 107. Text lost due to a torn manuscript has been supplied from the LbC.
1. See JA’s letters to the president of Congress of 5 Feb., and note 1, vol. 14:238–245, and of 8 Sept. (first), and note 2, above.
2. Both JA and Francis Dana suspected { 281 } that Benjamin Franklin had connived with the Comte de Vergennes to shift responsibility for the negotiation of a Russo-American commercial treaty from Dana at St. Petersburg to Franklin at Paris. See JA’s letter to Dana of 24 March, vol. 14:358–359, and Dana’s letter to JA of [1 June], above.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0132

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, Mercy Otis
Date: 1783-09-10

To Mercy Otis Warren

[salute] Madam

It is but a very few days, Since I received your Letter of the 4. of May, which affored me, as your Letters always do, a delicious Entertainment.1 Your friendly Congratulations, on the Success of my feeble Efforts, are very agreable to me, and very obliging.
You Say that I shall never retire, till weary Nature diminishes my Capacity of acting in dignified difficulty.— Give me leave to say, that the Period is already arrived. Nature is weary, the Capacity is diminished but what is more agreable to Think of, the dignified difficulties are all at an End.— I always had a Knack at a Difficulty. My Country Clients used to tell me, Mr Adams is excellent at a difficult Case. and having a reputation for this I was always vexed with them.— Few of the Race of Adam have had more difficulties fall to his share.— But I consider them as all at an End in a manner.
Probity, Madam would be not only the Surest, but the only Road to honour if Mankind were not deceived. But there are so many Ways of cheating and imposing upon the most enlightened People, that it is almost impossible to keep Steady their Approbation of the Just, their Contempt of the Vile, or their Abhorrence of the Wicked.
I believe I have never failed to Answer a Letter from Marcia, if I have I was very much to blame, and very inattentive to my own Interest, for I prize very highly her Letters, both for the Pleasure and Instruction I derive from them
I have absolutely got above all Fatigue from Pomp and Parade. it has no Effect upon me. one may be familiarized to any Thing. My house Stands in a very publick Place at the Confluence of Several, much frequented streets. there are generally half a dozen Chariots at a Time, rolling by upon the Pavements, for at least one and twenty hours out of the four & twenty making an incessant Roar, like the Falls of Niagara.— Yet I dont hear it.— I write, read, &c as if all were still.—2 The imposing Glare of a Court, at present has as little Effect on me. I am as insensible to it, as an I[ndi]an would be.
I have indeed, Madame been horribly neglected in the Article of Intelligence. I have endeavoured to correspond with Members of Congress but before my Letters could reach them they had retired.— { 282 } I have been Shamefully uninformed of what has passed at Philadelphia & Boston. But I hope for better Times.
It was with very Affecting sentiments that I learned, the Death of Mr Otis my worthy Master. Extraordinary in Death as in Life, he has left a Character, which will never die, while the Memory of the American Revolution remains, whose Foundations he laid, with an Ennergy, and with those Masterly Abilities which no other Man possessed.
With very great Respect and Esteem I have the / honour to be, Madam your sincere Friend and / very humble servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); internal address: “Mrs Warren.”; endorsed: “Mr Adams—” and “Hon: Jno Adams / Sepr 10th 1783.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 107. Text lost due to a torn manuscript has been supplied from the LbC.
1. Vol. 14:466–468.
2. JA wrote of the traffic noise outside his lodgings at the Hôtel du Roi in the Boston Patriot of 29 April 1812, recalling that “the grand hotel du Roi, place du Carrousel, where I had apartments, was situated at the confluence of so many streets, that it was a kind of thoroughfare. A constant stream of carriages was rolling by it over the pavements for one and twenty hours out of the twenty-four. From two o’clock to five in the morning there was something like stillness and silence, but all the other one and twenty hours was a constant roar, like incessant rolls of thunder. When I was in my best health I sometimes thought it would kill me.” For more on the din in the Place du Carrousel and its effect on JA, see his letter to the president of Congress, 14 Sept. 1783, note 1, below.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0133

Author: American Peace Commissioners
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Boudinot, Elias
Date: 1783-09-10

The American Peace Commissioners to the President of Congress

[salute] Sir,

On the third Instant, Definitive Treaties were concluded, between all the late belligerent Powers, except the Dutch, who the Day before settled and signed Preliminary Articles of Peace with Britain.
We most sincerely & cordially congratulate Congress and our Country in general, on this happy Event, and we hope that the same kind Providence which has led us thro’ a vigorous War, to an honorable Peace, will enable us to make a wise & moderate Use of that inestimable Blessing.
We have committed a Duplicate Original of the Treaty to the Care of Mr. Thaxter, who will go immediately to L’Orient, whence he will sail in the French Packet to New-York. That Gentleman left America with Mr. Adams as his Private Secretary, and his Conduct having been perfectly satisfactory to that Minister, we join in { 283 } recommending him to the Attention of Congress. We have orderd Mr. Grand to pay him one hundred and thirty Louis d’ors, on account of the reasonable Expences to be incurr’d by his Mission to Congress, and his Journey from thence to his Family at Hingham in the Massachusetts Bay. For the Disposition of the Money he is to account.1
The Definitive Treaty being in the Terms of the Provisional Articles, and not comprehending any of the Objects of our subsequent Negociations, it is proper that we give a summary Account of them.
When Mr Hartley arrived here he brought with him only a set of Instructions signed by the King. We objected to proceeding with him until he should have a Commission in Form. This occasioned some Delay—a proper Commission was however transmitted to him, a Copy of which was shortly after sent to Mr. Livingston.2
We having been instructed to obtain if possible an Article for a Direct Trade to the West Indies, made to Mr. Hartley the Proposition No 1.3
He approved of it greatly and recommended it to his Court, but they declined assenting to it.
Mr Hartley then made us the Proposition No 2. but on being asked whether he was authorized to sign it, in Case we agreed to it, he answer’d in the Negative.4 We therefore thought it improper to proceed to the Consideration of it until after he should have obtained the Consent of his Court to it. We also desired to be informed whether his Court would or would not comprehend Ireland in their Stipulations with us.
The British Cabinet would not adopt Mr Hartley’s Propositions but their Letters to him were calculated to inspire us with Expectations, that as nothing but particular local Circumstances, which would probably not be of long duration, restrained them from preferring the most liberal System of Commerce with us, the Ministry would take the earliest Opportunity of gratifying their own Wishes as well as ours, on that Subject.—
Mr Hartley then made us the Proposition No 3.5 At this Time we were informed that Letters for us had arrived in France from Philada.. We expected to receive Instructions in them, and told Mr. Hartley that this Expectation induced us to post pone giving him an Answer for a few Days.
The Vessel by which we had expected these Letters, it seems had not brought any for us. But at that Time Information arrived from America, that our Ports were all opened to British Vessels. Mr { 284 } Hartley thereupon did not think himself at Liberty to proceed, until after he should communicate that Intelligence to his Court and receive their further Instructions.
Those further Instructions never came, and thus our Endeavours as to commercial Regulations, proved fruitless. We had many Conferences & recd long Memorials from Mr Hartley on the Subject; but his Zeal for Systems friendly to us, constantly exceeded his Authority to concert and agree to them.
During the long Interval of his expecting Instructions, for his Expectations were permitted to exist almost to the last, we proceeded to make & receive Propositions for perfecting the definitive Treaty. Details of all the Amendments, Alterations, Objections, Exceptions &ca. which occurr’d in the Course of these Discussions would be Voluminous. We finally agreed that he should send to his Court, the Project or Draft of a Treaty No 4.6 He did so, but after much Time, and when pressed by France, who insisted that we should all conclude together, He was instructed to sign a Definitive Treaty in the Terms of the Provisional Articles.
Whether the British Court meant to avoid a Definitive Treaty with us, thro’ a vain Hope from the exagerated Accounts of Divisions among our People, and Want of Authority in Congress, that some Revolution might soon happen in their Favour, or whether their dilatory Conduct was caused by the Strife of the two opposite and nearly equal Parties in the Cabinet, is hard to decide.—
Your Excellency will observe, that the Treaty was signed at Paris, & not at Versailles. Mr Hartley’s Letter No. 5, & our Answer No 6. will explain this.7 His Objections, and indeed our Proceedings in general, were communicated to the French Minister, who was content that we should acquiesce, but desired that we would appoint the signing early in the Morning, and give him an Account of it at Versailles by Express, for that he would not proceed to sign on the Part of France, ’till he was sure that our Business was done.
The Day after the Signature of the Treaty, Mr. Hartley wrote us a congratulatory Letter No 7. to which we returned the Answer No. 8.—8
He is gone to England, and expects soon to return—which, for our Parts we think uncertain. We have taken Care to speak to him in strong Terms, on the Subject of the Evacuation of New-York, and the other important Subjects proper to be mentioned to him.— We think we may rely on his doing every thing in his Power to influence his Court, to do what they ought to do, but it does not appear that { 285 } they have as yet formed any settled System for their Conduct relative to the United States.— We cannot but think that the late & present Aspect of Affairs in America has had, and continues to have, an unfavourable Influence, not only in Britain but throughout Europe.—
In whatever Light the article respecting the Tories may be view’d in America, it is consider’d in Europe as very humiliating, to Britain, and therefore as being one which we ought in Honour to perform and fulfil with the most scrupulous Regard to good Faith, & in a manner least Offensive to the Feelings of the King & Court of G. Britain, who upon that Point are extremely tender.
The unseasonable & unnecessary Resolves of various Towns on this Subject, the actual Expulsion of Tories from some Places, and the avow’d Implacability of almost all who have published their Sentiments about the Matter, are Circumstances which are construed, not only to the Prejudice of our national Magnanimity and good-Faith, but also to the Prejudice of our Government.
Popular Committees are consider’d here as with us, in the Light of Substitutes to Constitutional Government, and as being only necessary in the Interval between the Removal of the former and the Establishment of the present.
The Constitutions of the different States have been translated & published, and Pains have been taken to lead Europe to believe, that the American States not only made their own Laws, but obey’d them.9 But the continuance of popular Assemblies conven’d expressly to deliberate on Matters proper only for the Cognizance of the different Legislatures & Officers of Government, and their proceeding not only to ordain, but to enforce their Resolutions, has exceedingly lessen’d the Dignity of the States in the Eyes of these Nations.
To this we may also add, that the Situation of the Army, the Reluctance of the People to pay Taxes, and the Circumstances under which Congress removed from Philadelphia, have diminish’d the Admiration in which the People of America were held among the Nations of Europe, & somewhat abated their Ardor for forming Connections with us, before our Affairs acquire a greater Degree of order & Consistance.—
Permit us to observe, that in our Opinion the Recommendation of Congress, promised in the 5th: Article, should immediately be made in the Terms of it and published; and that the States should be requested to take it into Consideration as soon as the Evacuation by { 286 } the Enemy shall be compleated. It is also much to be wished that the Legislatures may not involve all the Tories in Banishment and Ruin, but that such Discriminations may be made, as to entitle the Decisions to the Approbation of disinterested Men, and dispassionate Posterity.—
On the 7th: Inst. we received your Excellency’s Letter of the 16th: June. last, covering a Resolution of Congress of the 1st May directing a Commission to us for making a Treaty of Commerce &ca. with G. Britain. This Intelligence arrived very oportunely to prevent the Anti-American Party from ascribing any Delays on our Part to Motives of Resentment in England to that Country. Great Britain will send a Minister to Congress as soon as Congress shall send a Minister to Britain, & we think much Good might result from that Measure.
The Information of Mr Dumas, that we encouraged the Idea of entering into Engagements with the Dutch to defend the Freedom of Trade, was not well founded.— Our Sentiments on that Subject exactly correspond with those of Congress; nor did we even think or pretend that we had Authority to adopt any such Measures.10
We have Reason to think that the Emperor and Russia, & other Commercial Nations, are ready to make Treaties of Commerce with the United States. Perhaps it might not be improper for Congress to direct that their Disposition on the Subject, be communicated to those Courts, & thereby prepare the Way for such Treaties.
The Emperor of Morrocco has manifested a very friendly Disposition towards us: He expects and is ready to receive, a Minister from us, and as he may either change his Mind, or may be succeeded by a Prince differently disposed, a Treaty with him may be of Importance. Our Trade to the Mediterranean will not be inconsiderable, and the Friendship of Morrocco, Algiers, Tunis & Tripoli, may become very interesting, in case the Russians should succeed in their Endeavours to Navigate freely into it by Constantinople.
Much we think will depend on the Success of our Negociations with England. If she should be prevailed upon to agree to a liberal System of Commerce, France & perhaps some other Nations, will follow her Example; but if she should prefer an exclusive monopolizing Plan, it is probable that her Neighbours will continue to adhere to their favorite Restrictions.—
Were it certain that the United States, could be brought to act as a Nation, and would jointly and fairly conduct their Commerce on { 287 } Principles of exact Reciprocity with all Nations, we think it probable that Britain would make extensive Concessions.— but on the Contrary, while the Prospect of Disunion in our Councils, or want of Power and Energy in our Executive Departments exist, they will not be apprehensive of Retaliation, and consequently lose their principal Motive to Liberality. Unless with respect to all foreign Nations and Transactions, we uniformly act as an entire united Nation, faithfully executing and obeying the Constitutional Acts of Congress on those Subjects, we shall soon find ourselves in the Situation in which all Europe wishes to see us, Vizt. as unimportant Consumers of her Manufactures & Productions, and as useful Labourers to furnish her with raw Materials.—
We beg leave to assure Congress that we shall apply our best Endeavours to execute this new Commission to their Satisfaction, & shall punctually obey such Instructions as they may be pleased to give us relative to it.— Unless Congress should have nominated a Secretary to that Commission, we shall consider ourselves at Liberty to appoint One; and as we are satisfied with the Conduct of Mr Franklin, the Secretary to our late Commission, we propose to appoint him, leaving it to Congress to make him such Compensation for his Services as they may Judge proper.
Count de Vergennes communicated to us a Proposition (Viz No 9 herewith inclosed) for explaining the 2d & 3d Articles of our Treaty with France, in a manner different from the Sense in which we understand them. This being a Matter in which we had no Right to interfere, we have not express’d any Opinion about it to the Court.11
With great Respect, / We have the honor to be, / Sir, / Your Excellency’s / most obedient & / most humble Serts:
[signed] John Adams.
[signed] B Franklin
[signed] John Jay
RC and enclosures (PCC, No. 85, f. 370–422); internal address: “To his Excellency / Elias Boudinot Esqre: / President of Congress.” LbC-Tr (Adams Papers); APM Reel 103. For the enclosures, see notes 3–8.
1. Ferdinand Grand paid John Thaxter 130 Louis d’Or, or ₶3,120, on 12 September. On the same day JA wrote to the Paris banking firm of Van den Yver Frères, ordering it to pay Thaxter £100 for his salary, which was to be charged to the Dutch loan consortium’s account and by them to the United States (DNA:RG 39, Foreign Ledgers, Public Agents in Europe, 1776–1787, Microfilm, Reel 1, f. 187, 367; LbC, APM Reel 108).
2. For David Hartley’s commission of 14 May, which he presented to the commissioners on the 19th, see JA, D&A, 3:130–131. A copy was enclosed with the commissioners’ 24 May letter to Robert R. Livingston (vol. 14:490–492).
3. For this article, presented to Hartley on 29 April, see JA, D&A, 3:114; vol. 14:455–457.
{ 288 }
4. For Hartley’s observations on the commissioners’ proposal of 29 April and his proposed agreement, both presented to the commissioners on 21 May, see JA, D&A, 3:131–134, 123–124; vol. 14:485–486.
5. See this proposal at June 1783, calendared, above.
6. See the draft Anglo-American definitive treaty at [ante 19 July], above.
7. Hartley’s letter and the commissioners’ reply were of 29 and 30 Aug., respectively, both above.
8. Hartley’s letter and the commissioners’ reply were of 4 and 5 Sept., respectively, both above.
9. As the commissioners indicate, there had been numerous European printings of the American constitutions, the most recent being the collaboration between Benjamin Franklin and the Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Constitutions des treize États-Unis de l’Amérique, Paris, 1783. A copy of that work, with a bookplate designed by JA, is in his library at MB (Catalogue of JA’s Library). For a Dutch edition of the American constitutions, the second volume of which was dedicated to JA, see vol. 13:xii; and for more on the French edition prepared by Franklin and Rochefoucauld, see vol. 14:505. For JA’s bookplate, see Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 4, above.
10. For Boudinot’s reference to C. W. F. Dumas and Congress’ resolution of 12 June revoking the power of its ministers in Europe to accede to the Armed Neutrality, see the 16 June letter from the president of Congress to the commissioners, and note 3, above.
11. On 20 May the Comte de Vergennes sent Franklin, in his capacity as minister to France, a proposed convention to prevent misunderstandings arising from a misinterpretation of Arts. 2 and 3 of the Franco-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce (PCC, No. 85, f. 420–421; Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 6:436–437). The difficulty, likely reflecting French concerns over a possible Anglo-American commercial treaty, was that Art. 2 might be interpreted to allow either the United States or France to grant an exclusive favor to a third party, thereby contravening the most favored nation clause in Art. 3 (Miller, Treaties, 2:5–6). Franklin apparently had not previously sent the proposed convention to Congress. When Congress acted on 11 May 1784, it rejected the French proposal for a convention but instructed Franklin to assure “his most Christian Majesty” that “it will be our constant care to place no people on more advantageous ground than the subjects of his Majesty” (JCC, 27:368–369). This led to an exchange of notes between Vergennes and Franklin that established an official, mutually agreed upon interpretation of Arts. 2 and 3. Vergennes wrote on 27 Aug. 1783 to request a declaration or official letter from Franklin stating the position of the United States with respect to the articles. Franklin replied on 3 Sept. and quoted directly from Congress’ resolution of 11 May. Vergennes answered on 9 Sept. that the assurances provided by Franklin were satisfactory (Miller, Treaties, 2:158–161).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0134

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-09-10

From Benjamin Franklin

[salute] Sir,

I have received a Letter from a very respectable Person in America, containing the following Words, Viz
“It is confidently reported, propagated, and believed by some among us, that the Court of France was at bottom against our Obtaining the Fishery and Territory in that great Extent in which both are secured to us by the Treaty; that our Minister at that Court favoured, or did not oppose this Design against us; and that it was entirely owing to the Firmness, Sagacity & Disinterestedness of Mr. Adams, with whom Mr. Jay united, that we have obtained those important Advantages.”1
{ 289 }
It is not my Purpose to dispute any Share of the Honour of that Treaty which the Friends of my Colleagues may be dispos’d to give them; but having now spent Fifty Years of my Life in public offices and Trusts, and having still one Ambition left, that of carrying the Character of Fidelity at least, to the Grave with me, I cannot allow that I was behind any of them in Zeal and Faithfulness. I therefore think that I ought not to suffer an Accusation, which falls little short of Treason to my Country, to pass without Notice, when the Means of effectual Vindication are at hand. You, Sir, was a Witness of my Conduct in that affair. To you and my other Colleagues I appeal, by sending to each a similar Letter with this, and I have no doubt of your Readiness to do a Brother Commissioner Justice, by Certificates that will entirely destroy the Effect of that Accusation.2 I have the honour to be, with much Esteem, / Sir, / Your most obedient / & most humble Servant.
[signed] B. Franklin
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excelly. J. Adams Esqe.”; endorsed: “Dr Franklin 10 Sept. 1783 / concerning a Letter he / recd from America.”; docketed by CFA: “This letter and it’s answer / may be found published / in the Diplomatic Correspe / vol 4th. p 163–4.5.” CFA refers to The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, ed. Jared Sparks, 12 vols., Boston, 1829–1830, 4:163–166. Within the range of page numbers are Franklin’s 10 Sept. letter to John Jay (nearly identical to his letter to JA of 10 Sept.), Jay’s reply of 11 Sept., and JA’s reply of 13 Sept., below.
1. Franklin quotes from a [5 May] letter from Samuel Cooper, who traced accusations of obstructionism by France and supineness on the part of Franklin to letters received at Philadelphia and in Massachusetts “from some of our Plenipotentiaries at Paris, and particularly from Mr. Adams” (Franklin, Papers, 39:561–563). Cooper, who never saw the letters, likely heard reports of JA’s “Peace Journal,” an account of the Anglo-American peace negotiations made up of extracts from his Diary (JA, D&A, 3:41–96). JA sent one copy to Congress, where it was read in March 1783, and a second, longer version to AA, who by the end of April had shared it with friends, including Jonathan Jackson and William Gordon (same, 3:42–43; AFC, 5:60, 141–143; vol. 14:472–473). The accusations attributed to JA by Cooper reflect to a striking degree remarks made by JA in a 17 Nov. 1782 letter to Jackson (vol. 14:61–64). That letter, which arrived at Philadelphia at the same time as JA’s “Peace Journal,” was opened and read by the Massachusetts delegates then serving in Congress—and possibly shown to others—before it was forwarded to Jackson at Newburyport (JA, D&A, 3:42–43). For the history of JA’s “Peace Journal,” see vol. 14:xviii–xx.
Franklin immediately replied to Cooper in a letter (not found) carried by John Thaxter on his departure from Paris on 14 Sept. 1783 for delivery to “a Gentleman in Philadelphia” (from Thaxter, 19 Jan. 1784, below). Franklin subsequently enclosed “a packet” for Cooper (also not found) with a 2 Nov. 1783 letter to Richard Bache, Franklin’s son-in-law, who perhaps not coincidentally lived in Philadelphia (Bache to Franklin, 7 March 1784, CtY: Franklin Coll.). The packet probably contained what Franklin later called “my Justification” (Franklin to Jonathan Williams Jr., 16 Feb. 1786, Franklin, Writings, 9:487–488), including letters that he solicited from JA, John Jay, and Henry Laurens certifying his fidelity and zeal in the peace negotiations (see note 2), which he intended Cooper to make public at Boston (Bache to Franklin, 21 June 1784, PPAmP:Franklin Papers). But Cooper died before the packet reached him, { 290 } and Franklin by then had begun to have second thoughts. In a 26 Dec. 1783 letter to Cooper, Franklin indicated that he had written to him “a too long letter some time since, respecting Mr A.’s Calumnies, of which perhaps it was not necessary to take so much Notice” (DLC:Franklin Papers).
2. Franklin wrote almost identical letters to Jay and Laurens on this date. The two men replied, in support of Franklin, on 11 and 21 Sept., respectively (ScHi:Laurens Papers; Jay, Unpublished Papers, 2:584–585; Laurens, Papers, 16:343–344). JA replied on the 13th, below.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0135

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Cerisier, Antoine Marie
Date: 1783-09-11

To Antoine Marie Cerisier

[salute] Dear Sir,

I am extremely sorry to find by your last Letter,1 that your Health has been attacked again, but I hope it will not have any serious Consequences. I wish all the Success you can desire to your Application to Versailles, and if I should be called upon by the Minister, or have any other Opportunity to support it, consistent with Prudence, it will give me great pleasure to do it, because I think it would be a public Service to France— But as it is wholly out of my Department, & I have not so much Credit with that Minister as I wish I had upon this Occasion, I am afraid that any voluntary Interference of mine, might do you more harm than good.
I am informed from the President of Congress, that they have resolved to send a Commission to me. Mr. Franklin and Mr. Jay, to treat of Commerce with Great Britain, so that I shall not return to America this Year— Perhaps we may find it necessary to go to London, & I may again have the pleasure of seeing you in Holland.
With great Esteem, I have the honor &c
LbC in John Thaxter’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mr. Cerisier.”; APM Reel 106.
1. Of 3 Sept., above.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0136

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Sarsfield, Guy Claude, Comte de
Date: 1783-09-11

To the Comte de Sarsfield

[salute] My dear Comte Sarsefield,

I have been honoured with your two friendly Letters from Rennes, and altho’ a multiplicity of Affairs have hitherto prevented me from answering them, be assured I have not forgotten you.1 I am much pleased to find that I have been instrumental of employing your thoughts upon another subject, & I promise myself much Entertainment & Instruction in reading it. I am in no danger of losing the opportunity, because we have late Orders from Congress, which { 291 } will necessarily postpone my Return to America, until another Year— A Commission is to be sent to me, Mr. Franklin & Mr. Jay to treat of Commerce with Great Britain. This will necessarily take up much time, & altho’ We may be obliged to make a Tour to London, and I may possibly make one to Holland, I expect to pass the most of the Fall and Winter at Paris. This will I hope afford me opportunity to enjoy the good Company in the Rue Pot de Fer, not forgetting the good Cheer, nor the Speculations of the Summer at Rennes.
With great Respect & Esteem, I have the honor / to be, / my Lord, / your Lordship’s &c
LbC in John Thaxter’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “Comte Sarsefield.”; APM Reel 106.
1. Guy Claude, Comte de Sarsfield, wrote to JA on 12 July and 10 Aug. (Adams Papers). Anticipating the conclusion of the Anglo-American definitive peace treaty, Sarsfield wished to know when JA expected to leave Paris and return to America. Sarsfield had begun to compose an essay on women at JA’s encouragement and was afraid that he would not be able to complete it before JA’s departure. It is not known when JA received the essay “Deux Lettres sur Les Femmes. 1783,” dated 30 June and 4 Sept., but it can be found in a 280-page collection of Sarsfield’s writings in the Adams Papers (filmed at [ca. 1782–1783]). For the collection’s content, see vol. 13:252.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0137

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1783-09-13

This is a summary of a document and does not contain a transcription. If it is available elsewhere in this digital edition, a page number link will be provided below in the paragraph beginning "Printed."

To the President of Congress

Paris, 13 Sept. 1783. RC and enclosure (PCC, No. 84, V, f. 201–214). LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 106. With this letter John Adams sent Congress a copy of the 2 Sept. Anglo-Dutch preliminary peace treaty, which he indicated he had just received and transcribed. The treaty arrived as an enclosure with a letter of 12 Sept. from Gerard Brantsen, one of the Dutch peace negotiators (Adams Papers). Brantsen apologized for the delay in sending Adams a copy, which he attributed to a misunderstanding on the part of his secretary.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0138

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Date: 1783-09-13

To Benjamin Franklin

[salute] Sir,

I have recd. the Letter, which you did me the honor to write me on the 10th. of this Month, in which you say, you “have recieved a Letter from a very respectable Person in America, containing the following Words vizt:—‘It is confidently reported, propagated & believed by some among Us, that the Court of France was at Bottom against our obtaining the Fishery & Territory in that great Extent in which both are secured to Us by the Treaty—that our Minister at { 292 } that Court favoured or did not oppose this design against us, and that it was entirely owing to the Firmness, Sagacity & Disinterestedness of Mr. Adams, with whom Mr. Jay united, that We have obtained those important Advantages.’ ”
It is unnecessary for me to say any thing upon this subject, more than to quote the words which I wrote in the Evening of the 30th. of November 1782, and which have been recd. and read in Congress— Vizt—“As soon as I arrived in Paris, I waited on Mr. Jay, & learned from him the rise & progress of the Negotiation. Nothing that has happened since the beginning of the Controversy in 1761 has ever struck me more forcibly, or affected me more intimately, than that entire Coincidence of Principles & Opinions between him & me— In about three days I went out to Passy, & spent the Evening with Dr. Franklin, and entered largely into Conversation with him, upon the Course & present state of our foreign Affairs. I told him my opinion without reserve of the Policy of this Court, and of the Principles, Wisdom & Firmness, with which Mr. Jay had conducted the Negotiation in his Sickness & in my Absence, and that I was determined to support Mr. Jay to the utmost of my Power, in Pursuit of the same System. The Dr. heard me patiently, but said nothing.
“The first Conference we had afterwards with Mr. Oswald, in considering one point & another, Dr Franklin turned to Mr. Jay & said, ‘I am of your opinion, & will go on with these Gentlemen, without consulting this Court.’ He has accordingly met Us in most of our Conferences, & has gone on with Us in entire Harmony & Unanimity throughout, and has been able & useful, both by his Sagacity & Reputation, in the whole Negotiation.”1
I have the honor to be, very respectfully / Sir / &c
LbC in John Thaxter’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency / Benjamin Franklin Esqr.”; APM Reel 106.
1. JA quotes his Diary entry for 30 Nov. 1782, which he included in his “Peace Journal” (JA, D&A, 3:82). JA’s reference to the “Journal” as having been received and read by Congress casts considerable doubt on his later claim that he inadvertently sent it to Robert R. Livingston (Boston Patriot, 7 Sept. 1811). For JA’s decision to send the “Journal” to Congress, see vol. 14:xviii–xx.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0139

Author: Storer, Charles
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-09-13

From Charles Storer

[salute] Sir,

By Mr: Thaxter I ought in duty to have written you, and, not having done it, I fear you may be inclined to lay some neglect to my { 293 } Charge. I have only to say in apology that our time, from our arrival to Mr: Thaxter’s departure, was constantly employed—and I hope to his satisfaction, as that was our object here.—
My motive in writing to you is particular. I have acknowledgements to make for many kindnesses and Civilities. If in any measure I have been happy enough to have rendered you some service in return, the reflection will be abundantly satisfactory. I was young to be indulged with your Confidence; but was not insensible of the honor conferred upon me—and hope I have not merited your disapprobation: If, on the contrary, I may have imbibed any patriotic Sentiments, or obtained any little insight into the field of Politics & Negotiation, the Credit they may hereafter gain me shall be ever accompanied, Sir, with a gratefull remembrance of your late Indulgence.—
Enclosed I take the liberty to send you a few peices of Massachusetts & New-York Newspapers, which perhaps you may not have seen. They contain some Instructions to Representatives, & Resolves.—1
Port-Rosaway in Nova-Scotia seems to have become the Asylum of the Refugees. ’Tis said 30,000 have embarked from NYork for that place, & many are going from this Kingdom to settle there.2 They talk of their having carried a million & an half of property with them—much more than they are worth, I imagine— The Government here are about giving them every Encouragement, & Bounties; so that ’tis said they must soon outrival the New-England States— Too feeble attempts of miserable men!—
Some British Merchants have recd. letters from their old Correspondents in America, who write that they were able at the Commencement of the war to pay their debts—but that the war had so reduced them, that they could now pay only their Principal: And it has been said that the Merchants were going to remit their Interest money.— Mr: Hartley, I am told, arrived in Town last Evening, with our Definitive Treaty, & I hear your idea has been adopted, vizt. the re-signing the Provisional Treaty.—
Mr: Fitch & family, whom I saw yesterday, desire their respectfull Compts: to you & Master John, to which I would beg leave to add mine, and to assure you I shall be ever ready & happy to receive any Commands you may please to honor me with.
I have the honor to be, Sir, / Your Oblig’d, humle: servt:
[signed] Chas: Storer.
{ 294 }
1. The enclosed newspapers have not been found. However, the instructions and resolves referred to may have pertained to Art. 5 of the preliminary treaty, concerning the return of loyalists, the restoration of their property, and the payment of compensation, to which whole communities registered their aversion in the spring of 1783. See, for example, the Boston Independent Ledger of 14 April, the Boston Gazette of 5 May, the Worcester Massachusetts Spy of 22 May, the Boston Independent Chronicle of 29 May, and the New York Gazetteer of 9 and 30 June. For a more detailed account of the protests, see James Warren’s 24 June letter, and note 3, above.
2. Port Roseway (now Shelburne), Nova Scotia, is approximately 130 miles southwest of Halifax. While it was considered a desirable destination for the loyalists, the number cited by Storer is wildly inflated. The first wave, which landed in May 1783 under the auspices of the Port Roseway Associates, consisted of 3,000 refugees. By mid-1784 the population was about 7,500 but was in decline (Neil MacKinnon, This Unfriendly Soil, Kingston and Montreal, 1986, p. 5, 17, 38).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0140

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1783-09-14

To the President of Congress

[salute] Sir

I beg Leave to introduce to your Civilities Mr: Thaxter, who goes home with the definitive Treaty of Peace, and the original Treaty with Holland.1
Mr: Thaxter will present you a Medal, a Present to Congress, from the Province of Friesland, he will also present another to your Excellency of which I beg your acceptance.2 These were sent as Presents to me and I have no more, otherwise I should have been glad to have Sent more of them to America.
With great Respect I have the Honour to be your Excellencies / most obedient Servant.
LbC in JQA’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency the President of Congress.”; APM Reel 106. This is the last letter in Lb/JA/18. For JA and his Letterbooks, see Introduction, Part 4, above.
1. Soon after John Thaxter’s departure from Paris on 14 Sept., JA, who had been unwell for several days, was seized with a fever almost as violent as the one that had afflicted him at Amsterdam two years earlier. Weak and unable to sleep because of the din of traffic outside his lodgings at the Hôtel du Roi, JA was moved on 22 Sept. to new accommodations at the Hôtel de Rouault in Auteuil, where he and JQA resided as guests of Thomas Barclay until they left for London on 20 Oct. (JA, D&A, 3:143–144, 146). For JA’s illness at Amsterdam in 1781, see vol. 11:469–470.
2. JA sent Congress and its president the medal issued by the Société Bourgeoise of Leeuwarden to commemorate Friesland’s recognition of the United States on 26 Feb. 1782. For a description and illustration of the medal, as well as the Société’s 29 April 1783 presentation letter and JA’s later remembrance of sending the medal to Robert Morris, see vol. 14:xiv, 458–462, 463.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0141

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Morris, Robert
Date: 1783-09-14

To Robert Morris

[salute] Sir

I beg Leave to introduce to you Mr: Thaxter, and to recommend him to your Benevolence— If very hard Services constitute Merit he has it in great Perfection— When I was received in Holland it would have been natural for me to have recommended him to Congress for the Secretary to that Legation, But Mr: Dumas had been long there. and had behaved well— As Mr: Thaxter came out with me, when I was Sole in the Commission for Peace it would have been natural that he Should have been appointed Secretary for which he was extremely well qualified: but the Dr: who knows better than I do, how to provide for himself and his Connections got his Son appointed.1
I cannot expect that any Gentleman will serve the public with me if he Sees himself constantly neglected, and others appointed to honours. and Employments, who certainly have not more Merit. Mr: Thaxter has never till the last year, or rather this year been allowed enough for his Necessary Expences. The Dr: has allowed his Son three hundred a year—if this should be made up to Mr: Thaxter he would be satisfied or if Congress should think proper to appoint him Secretary to some Legation with a moderate Salary, one half of what has been given, it will be very well.— But I cannot desire any Gentleman to attach himself to me, and do the Drudgery of my Office, without Reward, when he sees others rewarded so amply.
With great and Sincere esteem I have the honour to be, Sir, your most / obedient and most humble Servant
LbC in JQA’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency Robert Morris Esqr:”; APM Reel 106.
1. That is, Benjamin Franklin’s grandson, William Temple Franklin, was named secretary to the peace commission.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0142

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Rush, Benjamin
Date: 1783-09-14

To Benjamin Rush

[salute] My dear Friend

Give me Leave to introduce to Your Acquaintance and Friendship, Mr Thaxter, who goes home with the definitive Treaty.
This Treaty which is but a Repetition of the Provisional Articles was all We could obtain, a poor Compensation for nine Months Negotiation; but I assure you We were very glad to get the Hand put to this.
{ 296 }
I was in hopes to have Soon Seen you in Philadelphia, but Congress have had the Goodness to resolve upon a Commission, very honourable to me, which will detain me, I know not how long.
I hope the States are Settling fast into order, and that all will go well. There will be disputes for Sometime about the Refugees but I hope they will have no serious ill Effect.— it would have been better for them to have had no Article, but the Reputation of national Faith and Royal honour, induced the English to insist even on this. We could obtain no Peace without it, and therefore We could not hesitate.
The Interest upon Debts I hope will be made easy, but We could obtain no stipulation for it.
With great and sincere Esteem your Frid
[signed] John Adams.
RC (private owner, 1978); internal address: “Dr Rush.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 106.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0143

Author: Dumas, C. W. F.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-09-18

From C. W. F. Dumas

[salute] Monsieur

Je vous remercie de m’avoir mis à même de pouvoir répondre aux questions qu’on me fait sur votre retour ici; & je vous félicite de la nouvelle besogne dont vous êtes chargé. Quoiqu’elle doive être un peu longue, elle ne peut que vous être agréable par son importance, en occupant tout à la fois votre activité, votre intelligence & votre fermeté.
Dans l’incertitude où vous êtes, Monsieur, si vous retournerez au Printemps prochain en Amérique, ou si vous viendrez résider avec votre famille à La Haie, je vous souhaite ce qui sera le plus de votre goût; & à ce propos, je vous demande la faveur de m’instruire de ce que le Congrès aura réglé là-dessus, dès que vous le saurez, afin que je puisse prendre les mesures nécessaires pour une retraite pour moi & ma famille; dans le temps où Vous ou votre successeur voudrez disposer de l’hôtel: car si l’on veut avoir quelque choix à cet égard, & ne pas payer trop cher, il faut louer en Janvier pour occuper en May.
Je ferai tout ce qui me sera possible pour ce que vous me recom̃andez, Monsieur, quant à l’Emprunt; & pour cet effet, j’irai passer quelques jours de la semaine prochaine à Amsterdam, où je me conduirai à cet égard avec la plus Scrupuleuse circonspection. Pour { 297 } être en état de mieux aller au but, en sondant imperceptiblement les terrains, & correspondant avec Mr. Morris avec quelque fruit, il faudroit que j’eusse une copie ou un Apperçu des conditions & engagemens réciproques de l’Emprunt actuel, que je tiendrai aussi secret que vous me le prescrirez: Savoir, du bénéfice accordé à la Direction actuelle, & jusqu’à quel point, som̃e & temps le Congrès est obligé de s’en tenir à celle-là. Vous m’en avez touché quelque chose en conversation; mais je n’en ai pas conservé une idée assez distincte, pour pouvoir me passer d’Instruction: Or la vôtre, Monsieur, me mettra en état d’agir d’abord; au lieu que je serois au moins 6 mois avant de pouvoir en recevoir une d’Amérique.2
Ma famille, sensible, com̃e elle doit l’être, à votre bon souvenir, vous présente ses respects, & vous prie de permettre que Mr. votre fils trouve ici leurs amitiés avec les miennes, qui suis avec grand respect / De Votre Excellence / Le très-humble & très-obéissant serviteur
[signed] C.w.f. Dumas


[salute] Sir

I thank you for putting me in a position where I can answer questions concerning your return here, and I congratulate you on the new duty with which you have been entrusted. Although it might be a bit protracted, it must be agreeable to you for its importance, occupying at the same time your energy, your intellect, and your steadfastness.
In the state of uncertainty that you are in, sir, as to whether you will return next spring to America or reside at The Hague with your family, I wish you whatever is most to your liking, and on this subject, I ask you the favor of letting me know what Congress decides on this matter as soon as you have word in order that I might take the necessary steps so that my family and I may withdraw elsewhere during the time when you or your successor will want to make arrangements for the legation, because if one wants to have a choice in the matter, and not pay too much, one must rent in January to take occupancy in May.
I will do everything I possibly can for whatever you recommend, sir, regarding the loan, and to this effect, I will spend several days next week at Amsterdam, where I will conduct myself with the most scrupulous circumspection. In order to be in a position to arrive at the goal, quietly sounding out the terrain, and corresponding with Mr. Morris with some fruitful outcome, I would need a copy or a sketch of the terms and agreements of the current loan, which I will keep as secret as you stipulate, in order to know the benefits of the current guidelines and what point, sum, and time Congress is required to abide by it. You touched on this in conversation with { 298 } me, but I did not retain a clear enough idea of it in order for it to provide instructions for me, and yours, sir, will put me in a position to act first, since I otherwise have to wait at least six months to receive instructions from America.2
My family, hoping, as it should, to remain in your good graces, sends their respects and asks that you pass along to your son their friendly regards with those of yours truly, who is with great respect your excellency’s very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] C.w.f. Dumas
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Paris à Son Exce. Mr. Adams M. P.”
1. Dumas was replying to JA’s letter of 10 Sept., above, which he had first acknowledged in a brief note of 16 Sept., forwarding an otherwise unidentified letter from Texel (Adams Papers).
2. There is no indication that JA sent Dumas further information on the loan that he had arranged at Amsterdam in 1782, but Robert Morris wrote Dumas on 30 Sept. 1784 to acknowledge letters of 23 Oct. and 8 Nov. 1783, neither of which has been found. Morris apologized for failing to reply sooner and thanked him for his reports from the Netherlands (Morris, Papers, 9:540).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0144

Author: Thaxter, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-09-18

From John Thaxter

[salute] Sir,

I arrived here this Morning at about eleven o.Clock, and to my great disappointment found the Packet Boat had sailed four hours before my Arrival—1 She had been detained two days for me, altho’ the Wind was very favorable. I am exceedingly chagrined & mortified, tho’ I have nothing to reproach myself with; & I flatter myself the Ministers for Peace will acquit me of having made any unnecessary delays in my Journey here, when I state to them what I did to arrive here several days before the Packet would sail— On Sunday Morning the 14th. I left Paris, and after having taken the Dispatches at Passy, I travelled the whole of that day & night & on Monday ’till near 12 at night, without taking any Refreshment in any House whatever— on Tuesday Morning at 6 o.Clock, I set off again, & rode till 6 o.Clock in the Evening, when I was obliged to stop for want of Horses— At 4. o.Clock on Wednesday Morning I was in my Carriage, & could make but two posts for want of Horses, until 11 o. or 12 oClock. I was detained at one Post 3. hours, at a second four & at a third three more on that day, waiting for Horses, which prevented my arriving at L’Orient that Evening— On Wednesday Evening at 10 o.Clock to get the nearer L’Orient I sat off again, after being tormented the whole day almost for want of Horses, & about midnight found myself 4. Posts & an half from L’Orient, but being told it was impossible to enter L’Orient in the Night, I thought it best to rest myself three or four Hours, having had very little sleep— After a few { 299 } Hours I sat off again & arrived here as I before mentioned, but unfortunately four Hours too late.— I have been thus particular in stating this matter, lest the Ministers should reproach me with having travelled too leisurely— They will please to recollect, that I was dispatched under an Idea that the Packet was not to sail until the 20th. instant,—& that I arrived two days before the time. There has been so much travelling for this 10. days past on this road that the Horses are worn out with fatigue & one journeys but slowly.—
On my Arrival Mr. L’oreilhe, Mr. Barclay’s Brother in Law, came to see me immediately, & went to the Commandant de la Marine, Mr. Thevenard, your very good Friend.—2 He was exceedingly chagrined & ordered a Ship to be prepared for me instantaneously, & She is now in vast forwardness, being covered almost with Workmen— The Commandant did me the honor to visit me, & was so polite as to assure me that no time should be lost in getting ready the Ship Warwick, a pretty little Vessel, formerly designed for a Packet—3 If the Wind should come fair I expect to be at Sea in three days, perhaps sooner— Every possible Attention has been shewn me by the Commandant & Mr. Loreilhe,— my Prospects are are very fair at present of soon leaving the Port, so that I hope to arrive as soon as the Packet Boat.—
The inclosed paper, which contains my Request for a Passage, was insisted on by the Commandant and I could not avoid it, but I did not consent, until I had an Assurance that the Ship was not fitted out & sent at the Expence of the United States—4 I told him my Situation was delicate, & that of my own head I could take no one Step that would invole the States in any Expence, without consulting the Ministers for Peace. I told him I thought it of Importance that the Treaty should go as soon as possible, but that I had no right to request a Vessel to be sent on purpose— He said he thôt it necessary that the Treaty should go, & that perhaps the Evacuation of New York depended on it— I was silent on this head.— He has set every thing in Motion here to get me off, & it cannot be long first— He has been indefatigable as well as Mr. Loreilhe, & I am extremely indebted to these Gentlemen for their Attention.— As this Ship does not go at the Expence of the States, I hope my Conduct will escape Censure.
My most affectionate Regards to your Son, & believe me to be with an invariable Attachment / Sir, / your most humble Servant
[signed] J Thaxter.
{ 300 }
RC and enclosure (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency / Mr. Adams &c &c”; endorsed: “Mr Thaxter. L’orient / 18. Septr. 1783.”
1. This was the Courier de l’Europe, for which see Zachariah Loreilhe’s letter of 24 Sept., below.
2. Zachariah Loreilhe, a Huguenot, was a partner in the Lorient mercantile firm of Barclay, Moylan & Co. (Priscilla H. and Richard S. Roberts, Thomas Barclay (1728–1793), Bethlehem, Penn., 2008, p. 77). Antoine Jean Marie, Comte de Thévenard, was commandant of the port of Lorient. JA had met and socialized with him in the spring of 1779 while waiting there for passage to America on the French frigate La Sensible (JA, D&A, 2:369, 379, 389; 4:198; JA, Works, 10:25).
3. Probably the Warwick, which sailed as a packet between Lorient and New York in 1784 and 1785 (New York Journal, 6 May 1784; New York Packet, 5 May 1785).
4. Thaxter enclosed a copy of his 18 Sept. 1783 letter to Thévenard. There he indicated the importance of getting the Anglo-American definitive peace treaty to the United States and requested the earliest possible passage to Philadelphia.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0145

Author: Morris, Robert
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-09-20

From Robert Morris


[salute] Sir

I have been duly honored with your Excellency’s favors of the fifth tenth and eleventh of July— I have taken the Liberty to make some Extracts from the two latter which are transmitted in a Letter to the Governor of Massachusetts Copy whereof is enclosed—1 Permit me Sir to give my feeble Approbation and Applause to those Sentiments of Wisdom and Integrity which are as happily expressed as they are forcibly conceived.— The Necessity of strengthening our Confederation providing for our Debts and forming some fœderal Constitution begins to be most seriously felt; But unfortunately for America the narrow and illiberal Prejudices of some have taken such deep Root that it must be difficult and may prove impracticable to remove them.
I agree with you Sir in Opinion that the late Peace was not all Circumstances considered a bad one for England. It is undoubtedly a Peace equally glorious to, and necessary for America. All Ranks of Men in this Country feel as well as perceive the Benefits of it; and the Fault-Finders (for such Men there always will be) are borne down by the general Torrent of Applause—
I was happy to learn by the Washington Packet that you intended a short Trip to Amsterdam for the Purpose of urging on the Loan.2 I hope you may have met with the Success due to your Zeal and Abilities, I shall ask no greater—
with perfect Respect / I have the Honor to be / Sir / your Excellency’s / most obedient / and / humble Servant
[signed] Robt Morris
{ 301 }
RC and enclosure (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency / John Adams Esqr.”; endorsed: “Robt Morris / Financier / Septem. 20 1783.” Dupl (Adams Papers).
1. This is Morris’ letter to John Hancock of 20 September. The extracts from JA’s letters of 10 and 11 July, both above, are not with the enclosed letter to Hancock, in which Morris lauded JA’s “Sentiments on Public Credit,” suggesting that his opinions carried “double Weight” because of his diplomatic experience (Morris, Papers, 8:533–535). For Hancock’s use of the extracts, see Thomas Cushing’s letter of 26 Nov., and note 2, below.
2. Morris presumably learned of JA’s plan to go to the Netherlands from JA’s 17 July letter to Robert R. Livingston, above, which reached Congress on 12 Sept. (PCC, No. 185, III, f. 79). JA did not mention the visit in his letters to Morris.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0146

Author: Lovell, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-09-21

From James Lovell

[salute] Dear Sir

It is long, since I took any Opportunity of repeating Assurances of my sincere and very great Esteem for you.1 Tired most heartily of the Jealousies & Animosities which are almost inseperable from governmental Emploies, and very hardly put to it to find Bread to eat or Rayment to cloathe myself and my numerous Family, I have rarely felt any proper Disposition of Mind for an Attempt to write either usefully or amusingly to you; and have rested quiet in my Conscience under a Supposition that Members of Congress & such like were doing the former, and your most excellent Wife and very lovely Children never failed of the latter. Indeed at this very Time I feel almost willing to be called a Brute & a Blockhead for omitting to write when I knew of so good an Opportunity and was even solicited to do it by Mr. Wheelwright, as his Introduction. Lord bless the young Man! where has he been not to know that it is the Pride of your Life to do Good, and that his best Introduction would be plumply to tell you that he stood in Need of your Informations Counsells or Influence. But, tho’ I myself am perfectly sure of all this, yet his Modesty might counteract his Interest if I did not comply with his Wish; and you might be left to Time and Chance for the Discovery not only of that good Quality in Mr. Wheelwright but of his Integrity Benevolence Sobriety & Industry which make him a valuable Citizen Companion & Friend, if it was not for this short Method of the honest written Testimony of your obliged Friend and much devoted humble Servant
[signed] James Lovell
And now for one of Swifts Postscripts. Essentials omitted in the main Body of the Work.
{ 302 }
Your Lady is well, but in much and very just Affliction, as you may readily conceive and will sympathetically feel upon reading the last Paragraph but one under the Boston Head.3
I have a very great Regard for Mr. Thaxter and am moreover in his Debt two or three very kind & very entertaining Letters which I will not attempt to repay because of the latter Quality; let him therefore take a large Portion of my Affectionate Regards as his Dividend in my present Bankruptcy of Wit and Imagination.
Mr. Chs. Storer was one of my favorites when a Child, I hope he is willing to be upon the Footing of a Friend with me now without any Dread of finding me with the Ferula always in my Hand.4
I embrace your Son with Tenderness from my Esteem of his most worthy Parents.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr Lovel. Sept. 21. 1783.”
1. Lovell had last written to JA on 30 Nov. [1782] (vol. 14:102). Upon leaving Congress in April of that year, Lovell was appointed receiver of continental taxes for Massachusetts, but his financial woes persisted until he was named naval officer for the port of Boston on 3 July 1784 (Smith, Letters of Delegates, 18:xix; Boston Independent Chronicle, 26 April 1782; AFC, 5:357–358).
2. For this date, see note 3.
3. Under the section headed “Boston” in the Boston Gazette of 22 Sept. 1783 was the first published report of Rev. William Smith’s death at Weymouth on the 17th and burial on the 20th. AA informed JA of her father’s death in a letter of 20 Sept., but JA first learned of his father-in-law’s death in a letter from Isaac Smith Sr. that has not been found (AFC, 5:253–255, 264–265).
4. Lovell, a teacher at the Boston Public Latin School from 1757 to 1775, counted Charles Storer among his many students. Another pupil, Harrison Gray Otis, later recalled Lovell’s distinctive use of the dreaded ferule: “He had a gymnastic style of flourishing, altogether unique—a mode of administering our experimentum ferules that was absolutely terrific” (Henry F. Jenks, Catalogue of the Boston Public Latin School, Boston, 1886, p. 19, 35–36, 92–93).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0147

Author: Dumas, C. W. F.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-09-22

From C. W. F. Dumas

[salute] Monsieur,

Ma Lettre ne partira que demain, mais je l’écris ce matin pour la faire mettre à la poste, parce que je me propose, avant d’aller à Amsterdam, d’aller à Dort, entretenir notre Ami, non seulement sur la matiere de l’Emprunt, mais aussi, sur celle du Com̃erce entre les deux Rep., de la perfection duquel sur un plan en grand, j’ai obtenu depuis peu des notions importantes, que je lui communiquerai, ainsi qu’à Mr. Van Berckel.1
Voici une Lettre, reçue d’Angleterre dans ce moment Le papier des deux côtes du cachet s’est trouvé déchiré. Je l’ai raffermi avec des brins d’oubli; & vous verrez par le filet de papier, qui est encore { 303 } entier, sous le cachet, qu’il y a du moins apparence que la Lettre n’a pas été ouverte.2
J’ai o[ublié], Monsieur, de vous parler d’une que Mr. D[ana] a fait l’honneur de m’écrire de Petersb. en date du [8 Août] il me dit
“I expect to [ta]ke my departure in about 12 days by a convenient opportunity now offering directly from this port for Boston— I pray you to present my regards to Mr. J. Q. Adams, and to acquaint him, that I shall take his Books, &c. with me to America.— Mr. Allen returns by this opportunity also.”3
Je pense com̃e vous, Monsieur, sur l’amélioration des affaires de la Rep. par la derniere guerre: & une preuve de cela, c’est que le parti rep., par-tout, & notam̃ent en Frise & à Utrecht, loin de se rallentir, vires acquirit eundo.4 J’entrerai une autre fois dans un plus grand détail là-dessus.
Mr. De Linde, par une Résolution de Zélande du 15e., est sûr à présent d’être proposé, & par conséqt. nécessairement nom̃é, Envoyé de la rep. en Angle., dès que les ratifications du Traité entre les 2 puissces. seront échangées, & il m’a permis de vous l’apprendre, en vous présentant ses complimens, avec l’espoir dont il se flatte de vous revoir à Londres.5
Aujourd’hui la jurisdiction Militaire & l’abolition du Haut Conseil de Guerre se décide à la pluralité des 6 Villes en Zélande, contre le Pce. qui y a la 7e. voix.6 C’est singulier de voir com̃e la révolution Américaine a exalté les têtes phlegmatiques de ce pays. Je pourrois vous en citer une anecdote curieuse & interessante en preuve: mais il n’est pas temps encore de la prone[r.] Je ne veux pas avoir à me reprocher d’avoir eventé leurs mines.
Je suis avec grand respect, de Votre Exce. / le très-humble & très-humble / serviteur
[signed] C.w.f. Dumas


[salute] Sir

My letter will not leave until tomorrow, but I am writing it this morning in order to have it taken to the post office, because I am offering my services, before I go to Amsterdam, to go to Dordrecht to have a discussion with our friend not only on the subject of the loan but also about commerce between the two republics, concerning the perfection of which, in the grand scheme of things, I recently gathered important ideas that I will communicate to him as well as to Mr. Van Berckel.1
Here is a letter just this minute received from England. The paper on { 304 } both sides of the seal was torn. I closed it again with doubled strands, and you will see from the grain of the paper, which is still whole under the seal, that there is at least the appearance that the letter was not opened.2
I forgot, sir, to tell you about a letter that Mr. Dana did me the honor of writing from St. Petersburg, dated 8 August. He tells me:
“I expect to [ta]ke my departure in about 12 days by a convenient opportunity now offering directly from this port for Boston— I pray you to present my regards to Mr. J. Q. Adams, and to acquaint him, that I shall take his Books, &c. with me to America.— Mr. Allen returns by this opportunity also.”3
I agree with you, sir, about the improvement of the affairs of the republic by means of the last war, and one proof of that is that the republican party, notably in Friesland and Utrecht, far from slowing down, vires aquirit eundo.4 I will give more details on this at another time.
Mr. De Linde, by a resolution of Zeeland on the 15th, is certain to be nominated and consequently definitely named the republic’s envoy to England as soon as the treaty ratifications are exchanged between the two powers, and he has permitted me to notify you, while sending his compliments, with the hope that he will be fortunate enough to see you at London.5
Today the military jurisdiction and the abolition of the High Council of War was decided by the plurality of the six towns of Zeeland against the prince, who had the seventh vote.6 It is remarkable to see how the American revolution has stirred up the phlegmatic leaders of this country. I could cite for you a curious and interesting anecdote as proof, but this is not yet the time to trumpet it. I do not want to have to rebuke myself for having laid bare their veins of ore.
With great respect, I am your excellency’s very humble and very humble servant
[signed] C.w.f. Dumas
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Paris à S. Exce. Mr. Adams Mine. Plenipo:.” Text lost where the seal was removed has been supplied from the letterbook copy of Francis Dana’s [19 Aug.] letter to Dumas (MHi:Francis Dana Letterbooks, Private, 1782–1784).
1. In a 23 Sept. letter to Sir James Jay, Dumas indicated that he planned to meet with Cornelis de Gyselaar at Dordrecht and perhaps with Engelbert François van Berckel at Amsterdam. They would discuss Jay’s ideas about Dutch-American commerce that he had shared with Dumas in a letter of the 14th (not found). An abstract of that letter by Dumas shows that Jay credited the success of British merchants in America to their large capital, which allowed them to finance substantial stocks of goods, far-flung retail networks, and long-term credit. He suggested that Dutch merchants take the same approach and expand their presence in the United States by combining their resources in companies or societies. Dumas wrote again to Jay on 3 Oct. to report that Gyselaar had taken up Jay’s proposal with a member of the Dutch mercantile community, but the response afforded little prospect that Dutch merchants would heed Jay’s advice (Nationaal Archief:Dumas Papers, Microfilm, Reel 2, f. 585–586, 588–589; Reel 4, f. 209–212).
2. This letter has not been identified.
3. In addition to the portions from the letter of [19 Aug.] related by Dumas, Dana indicated that he had received permission { 305 } from Congress to return to America and was availing himself of the opportunity to return rather than “waiting for the conclusion of the definitive Treaties of Peace, and taking an Audience of Her Imp: Majesty.” He also indicated to Dumas that “if I mistake not, busy & calamitous scenes are about to open upon this Continent. May the New-World be long preserved in Peace, and in the uninterrupted enjoyment of all the blessings of Liberty” (MHi:Francis Dana Letterbooks, Private, 1782–1784). For what Dana left unsaid with regard to his departure, see his letters to JA of [6 June], and note 4, and [29 July], both above.
4. It acquires strength by going (Virgil, Aeneid, Book IV, line 175).
5. Britain and the Netherlands had signed a preliminary peace treaty on 2 Sept. but would not conclude the definitive treaty until 20 May 1784. The two nations ratified the peace on 10 and 15 June, respectively, and exchanged the ratifications on the 19th (Edler, Dutch Republic and Amer. Rev., p. 244; London Gazette, 26–29 June). Baron Dirk Wolter Lynden van Blitterswyck did not present his credentials as Dutch minister until 10 Nov. (Repertorium, 3:264).
6. On 22 Sept. 1783 the States of Zeeland, citing breaches of ordinary justice under the fundamental laws of the province, resolved to limit military jurisdiction to purely military offenses. On the same day the States instructed its deputies to the States General to pursue the abolition of the High Council of War and the creation of a committee to report on the proper exercise of military jurisdiction under the fundamental laws of the Netherlands (Gazette d’Amsterdam, 10, 14 Oct.).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0148

Author: Thaxter, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-09-22

From John Thaxter

[salute] My dear Sir,

I expected at this date to have been at Sea; but the violent Winds from the West & N. West render it absolutely impossible to leave the Port. The Vessel that is to carry me is completely fitted & ready, & has been so ever since the 19th. instant, she having been prepared in thirty six hours after my Arrival— I am infinitely indebted to the Zeal & Activity of Monsr. Thevenard, who has done every thing for me, & treated me with the utmost Attention & Politeness, as he does every American— No Man is more beloved by our Countrymen than him, & their Attachment appears to be indeed well founded.
Mr. Le Comte de Breugnon, the President of the Council of War here, did me the honor to invite me to dine with him to day, & I am just returned from thence— A great part of the Council was present—
I am much concerned at being detained here by bad Winds—but knowing that the Packet Boat cannot have made any great progress since her Departure, I am a little consoled— ’Twas reported this morning, that She had returned to the Isle de Grais—but ’twas a mistake— The Commandant sent an Express Boat off immediately to know the Truth of it, with orders to detain her for me—but it proved to be another Vessel.—1 All I can do is to hold myself in readiness, as I do, at a Moment’s warning—
{ 306 }
I thôt it prudent to write the inclosed Letter, as I came by the Orders of the Ministers for Peace— You will please to shew it to the Gentlemen, if you think it proper.2
With the sincerest Respect & Attachment, / I have the honor to be, / Sir, / your most Hble Servt.
[signed] J Thaxter.
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excelly. / Mr. Adams.”
1. Thaxter refers to the Isle de Groix off the harbor mouth at Lorient, but his information concerning the packet was mistaken, for which see Zachariah Loreilhe’s letter of 24 Sept., below.
2. Thaxter’s letter to the commissioners was dated 20 Sept. (LbC-Tr, APM Reel 103) and is very similar to his 18 Sept. letter to JA, above. Copied into the Letterbook with the 20 Sept. letter and enclosed with the 18 Sept. letter was the same brief note of the 18th to the Comte de Thévenard. That the letter to the commissioners and enclosure were copied into the Letterbook prepared for them by Benjamin Franklin’s secretary Jean L’Air de Lamotte indicates that JA shared the documents with his colleagues.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0149

Author: Loreilhe, Zachariah
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-09-24

From Zachariah Loreilhe

[salute] Sir

At the desire of Mr. Thaxter I have the honor of Informing you that the Packetboat which Sailled from hence the 18th: Instt: for Newyork, was by distress of weather obliged to put back at the Ile of Groy yesterday in the afternoon, and last night at twelve OClock there being every apearance of a favorable wind, Mr. Thaxter found it Necessary to go on board, and in Such a hurry as made it imposible for him to acquint you with this Circumstance, however the Packetboat is Still at Groy The Wind not having Permitted them to Continue their Voyage, but as it is posible a change may happen every Instant Mr Thaxter has thought it Necessary to remain on board;1
I have the honour to be with great respect / Sir / your most obedient & / humble Servant
[signed] Z: Loreilhe
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency John Adams.”
1. The packet, Courier de l’Europe, finally sailed on 26 Sept. and reached New York on 19 November. John Thaxter delivered the definitive treaty to Congress on the 22d (Pennsylvania GazettePhiladelphia Freeman's Journal, 26 Nov.; from Thaxter, 19 Jan. 1784, below).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0150

Author: Dana, Francis
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-09-29

From Francis Dana

[salute] Dear Sir

I have already advised you of my determination to return to America. In pursuance of that I sailed in the Ship Kingston Capt: { 307 } Norwood, from Cronstadt for Boston, on the 28th. of August O. Stile.1 We arrived here yesterday afternoon in good order, having been twenty days from Cronstadt, eight of which we lay in the Baltic harbour, about 60 Leagues from thence, wind bound. We shall sail from hence as soon as the wind will permit us. We touch in at some port in the channel, Portsmouth if practicable. Shou’d we have a rough passage from hence ’tis not improbable I may spend the Winter in England, chiefly with my brother,2 as We find on our arrival here, that the Definitive Treaties were concluded on the 2d. & 3d. of this month.3 and I am still that miserable wretch on the Seas you have seen me to be. I was not made for that unstable element, and we shall probably arrive on our Coast in the most dangerous season of the year. If I shou’d stop in England over the winter I will write you from thence for I do not expect you will suddenly return to America. If the information of the Gazettes which I read at St: Petersbourg may be depended upon, you are destined for the Court of London, but I doubt this from what you wrote me about your return.4 However we may be disposed of let us not forget each other. I beg you to remember me affectionately to Mr: Thaxter & your Son, and to believe me to remain with the most sincere and unalterable attachment your much obliged Friend and most obedient humble Servant
[signed] FRA DANA
P.S. I have all your Son’s things with me— Mr: Allen is my fellow passenger & desires to be remembered to you & the family
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excelly: John Adams / Minister Plenipotentiary of the United-States.”; endorsed: “Mr Dana / Septr. 29. 1783.”
1. In several letters written at the end of July, Dana indicated that he would be sailing on the Duchess of Kingston’s yacht (from Dana, [29 July], note 9, above). The Kingston reached Boston on Saturday, 13 December. However, the Boston Gazette of 15 Dec. reported that “Saturday [13 Dec.] arrived here the ship Empress of Russia in 91 days from Petersburgh (Russia) but last from the Downs, in 55 days— In her came passengers the Hon. Francis Dana, Esq.; Minister from the Congress of the United States of America, to the Court of Petersburgh, and Mr. Jeremiah Allen, of this town, merchant.” The vessel was in the Downs, a roadstead in the English Channel off Deal, England, on 15 Oct., when Dana wrote to his brother Edmund (MHi:Francis Dana Letterbooks, Private, 1782–1784). Note that in a portion of AA’s 7 Dec. letter written on the 13th, she says that Dana arrived on the 12th (AFC, 5:277). The vessel’s identification—repeated in the 18 Dec. Boston Independent Chronicle—as the Empress of Russia is puzzling, but any explanation would be purely speculative in view of the official report of vessels entering or clearing the port of Boston in the 22 Dec. Boston Gazette that identified the ship as the Kingston, Capt. Norwood, from St. Petersburg.
2. Dana’s brother was Rev. Edmund Dana (1739–1823), a Harvard graduate and vicar of Wroxeter in England. He had gone to England in 1763 to study medicine, but after his marriage to Helen, daughter of the 6th Baron Kinnaird, he took up the ministry (Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, 14:414–418).
3. That is, the Anglo-Dutch preliminary { 308 } treaty was signed on 2 Sept. 1783, while the definitive treaties between Britain, France, Spain, and the United States were signed on the 3d.
4. It is impossible to know what reports Dana had seen, but considering the date of his departure from St. Petersburg, they might have been similar to the erroneous one appearing in the 5 Aug. London Morning Herald and Daily Advertiser. There it was reported that “Mr. Adams is arrived in London on the part of the American Congress; he will not, for some time, be introduced at St. James’s in his Ministerial capacity; but will appear in that situation immediately after the ratification of peace.”

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0151

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Storer, Charles
Date: 1783-10-11

To Charles Storer

[salute] Dr: Sir

I have rec’d from Mr: Ridley, some Letters from home and a Newspaper.—
My Son wrote you Sometime ago, that I was ill, and desired you to come to me— I have written you Since that I had altered my Plan both these Letters may be sent you from London, where untill Mr: Ridley rec’d your Letter of the 6. october from St: Quentin I supposed you were1
Mr: Thaxter is gone home. He sailed from l’Orient in the Packet the 26 of September with the definitive Treaty. I propose to go to London, the Week after next—how long I shall stay there I know not— I have been brought very low by another nervous Fever, and remain so weak that I can scarcely hold my Pen. a Journey to London will at least divert my mind, I hope it will recover my Health. We have rec’d Information from Congress that a Commission is to be sent to Me, Mr: Franklin and Mr: Jay to make a Treaty of Commerce with G: Britain, and I have written to the Ladies to come to me, but whether I shall receive them at the Hague or at Paris, I know not. Mrs: & Miss Adams, will Satisfy their Curiosity, by taking a Voyage; Staying in Europe, about Six Months and then returning with me, to a Philosophic Solitude.—2
Congress have done me great Honour, and given me compleat Satisfaction— I have no longer any Thing to complain of and am I believe as happy a Man, notwithstanding the Weakness of my Nerves, as the Sun shines on. My late Fever, Although it brought me down very low, has been I am perswaded of great Service to me; and I shall enjoy better Health in Consequence of it.
As to my future Destiny, I am perfectly indifferent, whether I go home, or whether I stay here, or whether I go to Holland again, to which I have no Objection except on Account of my Health— These Things are entre nous.
With great esteem your most obedient Servant.
{ 309 }
P.S. I cannot advise you to regulate your movements by any Consideration of mine— If you continue your design of going to Italy, you will not have a better Season than the present. or if you pursue, your present Plan of Studying French at St. Quentin you will do well. My Life is still to be, as it ever has been without a Plan Waiting one year, one Month, one Day, to learn what is to be my Fate the next. The blue Hills are my last Resource.
LbC in JQA’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address by JQA, “Mr: Charles Storer”; and, by JA, “aux Soins de Monsieur Brisac / Negotiant, a St. Quentin Picardie.”; APM Reel 107.
1. JQA’s letter was of 23 Sept. (from Storer, 15 Oct, below), but neither that letter nor JA’s has been found, nor has Storer’s 6 Oct. letter to Matthew Ridley been found.
2. JA wrote to AA on 14 Oct., informing her of his illness and his plans to go to London. There he wrote, “I have only to repeat my earnest Request that you and our Daughter would come to me, as soon as possible” (AFC, 5:255–256). For his initial request, made immediately after he received word of the proposed commission, see his letter to AA of 7 Sept., same, p. 236–238.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0152

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Staphorst, Nicolaas & Jacob van (business)
Recipient: Willink, Wilhem & Jan (business)
Recipient: La Lande & Fynje, de (business)
Date: 1783-10-14

To Wilhem & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, and De la Lande & Fynje

[salute] Gentlemen

I have been prevented from writing you, a long Time by another Attack of a Fever, the Rests as I Suppose of that violent one which I had at Amsterdam two Years ago which was never perfectly cured.— This last I am perswaded will be of Service to me.
I must now beg the Favour of you Gentlemen to inform me by Letter, how our Loan proceeds, and what Number of Obligations remain to be disposed of, of the Five Millions. But you will please to address your Letters to me in London under Cover to your Correspondent, who may hear of me at Mr Joshua Johnsons, Merchant, Great Tower Hill, London or you may direct your Letters to me under Cover to him.
I Shall have occasion for Some Money in London and Should be obliged to you, if you would inclose to me a Letter of Credit upon your Banker or Correspondent in that City, that he may Supply me with the Money I may Want upon my Receipts, as Mr Van den Yver has done in Paris.1
It is uncertain how long I may remain in England, as it will depend much upon the State of my Health: But probably it will not be more than five or Six Weeks. I shall write you however from Time to { 310 } Time.— You will please to give me Notice, if it Should become necessary for me to come to Amsterdam.
With great Respect, I have the Honour to be / Gentlemen &c
LbC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Messrs Wilhem and Jan Willink / Nicholas and Jacob Van Staphorst / and De La Lande & Fynje.”; APM Reel 107.
1. See the consortium’s reply of 24 Oct., directed to JA at London, but see also its letter of 16 Oct., both below. JA also applied to the Grands in Paris for a letter of credit, which Henry Grand enclosed with his letter of [14 Oct.] (Adams Papers, filmed at [1783]), to which JA replied, with his thanks, on the 17th (LbC, APM Reel 107).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0153

Author: Storer, Charles
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-10-15

From Charles Storer

[salute] Dear Sir,

I am honored by the receipt of your favor of the 11th. instant, and should not trouble again, (for I know you are not fond of receiving useless letters—) but to assure you I participate the satisfaction you say you enjoy from some late Circumstances.—
Permit me therefore first to congratulate you on the recovery of your health, & of the prospect you have of its being preserved to you in a better state than before— I am very glad you have undertaken a journey to London, as both the journey & variety I am persuaded will be of particular service to you.— Next to the restoration of your health, I rejoice in the honours you say Congress have conferred upon you— No party in that Body should, nor, had they been properly instructed, would they ever have witheld them. To speak to you of Causes would indeed be a presumption—
So Mrs: & Miss Adams will after all be favored with a sight of this old world— It will be a gratification to them I know—but six months, Sir, will give them a relish for the Blue Hills again.— Neither of the Ladies, I am persuaded will like the whirl & bustle of Europe a longer time— For what port, Sir, do you advise them to embark? I ask, to know if it may be in my power to render them any assistance on their arrival— May I ask too, if the Treaty of Commerce will be negotiated in London or Paris.—
St: Quentin I have made my abode for a while. My design is to get the french language. & here is a good Society therefore— The tour I proposed to Italy has proved but a Castle in the air, in effect—the fancy of a Youngster’s Brain— My Papa recalls me in the course of next year.— Peace being at last restored he wishes to partake the blessings of it with his Children. He hopes the next year my Sister { 311 } will be able to return with me. A parents’ feelings none but a Parent knows—and, as my duty, I obey—1
You say, Sir, you cannot advise me to regulate my movements by any Consideration of yours— If by this you mean that the idea of interrupting me should prevent your making use of me, you disappoint my wishes— My services are at your Command—& I have only to say I shall think myself honored in the employ— at the same time, Sir, as you give me leave to address you as a friend, do not think I wish to put myself too forward: On the contrary the more plainness used with me, the more satisfaction on my part—being flattered with your Confidence—
Permit me to ask, Sir, if Mr: Thaxter said anything to you about money borrowed of Mr: Laurens, while in London— He was kind enough to let us have some, as we found a difficulty in exchanging our Louis d’ors there.— Mr: Laurens was to draw on us, upon our return to Paris—but, as I did not propose to go there immediately, I paid Mr: Thaxter my proportion of the sum borrowed, that he might answer the draft more conveniently— As he did not write me on this subject before he left Paris, you will excuse my mentioning it to you— I do it, not to give you trouble about it, as I have already written to Mr: Thaxter that I would accept Mr: Laurens’ draft—but to satisfy myself if the matter has been settled, being myself a party concerned—2
I am obliged by Master John’s letter of the 23d. ulto: but yours of the 11th. inst: renders an answer thereto unnecessary.— With best Compts: to him, & assurances of perfect respect & Esteem, to yourself, I have the honor to be, Sir, / Yr: oblig’d humle: Servt:
[signed] Chas: Storer.
P S. You will probably wish to see Mr: Fitch in London. His address is No: 79. Germyn Strt:3
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “John Adams Esqr:”; endorsed: “Mr Storer / 15. Oct. 1783.”
1. Storer and his sister, Elizabeth Storer Atkinson, landed at New York in Nov. 1785 (AFC, 6:458–459).
2. Henry Laurens wrote to John Thaxter on 11 Aug. 1783 regarding the repayment of approximately £38, but nothing further is known regarding the transaction (ScHi:Laurens Papers).
3. Or Jermyn Street (London Past and Present, 2:306).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0154

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Cerisier, Antoine Marie
Date: 1783-10-16

To Antoine Marie Cerisier

[salute] My dear Sir

Monsieur the Abby de Mably has prepared for the Press, some Observations upon our American Constitutions, which he has done me the Honour of addressing to me: so that I am zealous to have the Work appear to Advantage in the Impression, both as it is like to be to me, in Particular a distinguished Mark of Respect with Posterity; and what is of much more Importance, it is, probably full of Sentiments and Principles, Advice and Suggestions, which will be usefull entertaining and instructive, to all the virtuous citizens of the united States of America for Ages to come.2
Your own Sentiments in Morals and Politicks, resemble so nearly those of the Abby de Mably; you have so just a veneration for this Sage and amiable Writer; and you have the Happiness, & Prosperity of America so much at heart, that I perswade myself you will think yourself very fortunate to have the Care of the Impression of this Work committed to you An excellent Friend of us all, the Abby de Chalut, has undertaken to copy it, in a very legible Hand, and it will be sent to you Sheet by Sheet. you will correct the Press and send the sheet, printed to the Abby at Paris who will correct it again if there should be Occasion.— Mr: Holthrop will no doubt undertake to Print it upon the best paper and in the fairest Type, or if you prefer another Printer it is at your Choice: only take Care that it be one who will not trifle with the Work.3
The Abby de Mably demands an hundred and twenty Copies for himself, to give away among his friends. This has been his Rule in other Works.—
I doubt not, the Printer may Sell three Thousand Copies if he takes his Measures wisely, to dispose of as many as he can before it shall be reprinted by others.
Secrecy, I think ought to be observed as much as possible untill the Work is well advanced, indeed untill the Impression is nearly finished—4 The Printer will have it in his Power to have it translated into Dutch, Sheet by Sheet and published in that Language at the same time that it is in French; which will be to him a great Advantage and Profit.5
With great esteem, I have the Honour to / be, Sir your most obedient, and most / humble Servant.
[signed] John Adams.6
{ 313 }
RC in JQA’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mr: A. M. Cerisier sur le Cingel, vis a vis / la tour de la Monnaie, à Amsterdam.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 107.
1. The presence in the Adams Papers of what appears to be a recipient’s copy of a letter like this one to Cerisier often indicates that the letter was not sent. But see JA’s 20 Nov. letter to Cerisier, below, inquiring as to Cerisier’s progress with regard to the matters raised in this letter.
With the exception of a 17 Oct. letter to Henry Grand (to the consortium, 14 Oct., note 1, above), this is JA’s last extant letter written at Paris in 1783. Indeed, they are his last extant letters of any kind until the two written to AA on 8 Nov. (AFC, 5:264–266) and that of 9 Nov. to the president of Congress, below. This is owing to the fact that at nine o’clock on the morning of 20 Oct., JA, JQA, and a servant set out from Auteuil for London. They arrived there on 26 Oct. and initially lodged at “Osborn’s Adelphi Hotel John Street; in the Strand” but on the 29th “took private lodgings; at Mr. Stockdale’s, opposite Burlington House.” The Adamses remained at London until 2 Jan. 1784, when they set out for the Netherlands (JA, D&A, 3:146, 195; JQA, Diary, 1:196–197, 207). JA’s Diary entries for his journey and sojourn in England begin on 20 Oct. but extend only through the 27th. In 1812, however, he prepared a detailed account of his visit to England as well as his arduous winter journey to the Netherlands, which appeared in the Boston Patriot of 9, 13, and 16 May 1812. To fill a large gap in JA’s Diary, the editors included the account verbatim, following the entry for 27 Oct. (JA, D&A, 3:146–154). JQA’s Diary chronicles the period from 20 Oct. through 6 Dec., and there the younger Adams provides considerably more detail than did his father about the journey to England and subsequent stay in London (JQA, Diary, 1:195–207). However, the most detailed contemporary account by either of the Adamses appears in a remarkable series of fifteen letters written by JQA to his friend Peter Jay Munro between 26 Oct. 1783 and 13 Jan. 1784 that together constitute a virtual journal of JQA’s daily activities (NNMus). For JA’s brief summary of his activities from his departure from Paris through 9 Nov., see his letter of that date to the president of Congress, below.
JA’s arrival did not go unnoticed in the London press. The London Morning Herald and Daily Advertiser reported on 29 Oct. that on “Monday [27 Oct.] John Adams, Esq. arrived at Mr. Stockdale’s, in Piccadilly, from the Hague.” On the 30th it announced that on “Tuesday Mr. Adams, lately arrived from America, had a long conference with Mr. Fox, at his house in St. James’s Place.” On the 31st it declared that “the arrival of Messrs. Adams and Jay in England is a most fortunate incident for the news collectors; as it has afforded ample scope for their inventive genius. Whether stockjobbing purposes, Ministerial or Opposition purposes be the objects in view, certain it is, that Mr. Jay has not supped, as reported, with Mr. Secretary Fox; nor has Mr. Adams held any conference with that worthy gentleman. The fact is, that both of the Americans are here in private characters only; and as a consequence, they have not seen, nor is it probable that they wish to see a single member of the present Administration. Mr. Adams, who is first in the commission for treating with this country, has been dangerously ill in France, and he is only come to England with a view to visit Bath for the restoration of his health.” There it also noted that “Mr. Adams is accompanied to England by his son. He came last from Paris, and not from the Hague, as has been stated in the papers by mistake.”
2. This letter, written at the behest of the Abbé de Mably (to Cerisier, 20 Nov., below), seeks the publication of Mably’s Observations sur le gouvernement et les loix des États-Unis d’Amérique. On 26 Sept., presumably on Mably’s behalf, JA wrote to the Comte de Vergennes to request his intervention with the keeper of the seals so that the pamphlet could be printed in France. JA indicated that Mably’s work would be sent to America and that he would send Vergennes a copy (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., 25:327). In his reply of 4 Oct., Vergennes indicated that JA needed to address his request to the inspector of publications, a Mr. De Neville (same, 26:11, No. 5). Upon receiving Vergennes’ response, JA apparently sent it on to Mably ([post 4 Oct.], Dft, Adams Papers, filmed at [1783–1784]), but subsequently the two men decided not to pursue the matter any further in France and turned to { 314 } Cerisier and publication of the pamphlet in the Netherlands as a less troublesome alternative. Principally through JA’s efforts they were successful in their endeavor and in 1784, at Amsterdam, appeared the French text with the title noted above, along with an English translation, Observations on the Government and Laws of the United States of America, Translated from the French with a Preface by the Translator. That version contained notes, presumably by the translator. Later in 1784 a London edition appeared, Remarks Concerning the Government and the Laws of the United States of America, which retained the notes but omitted the preface.
The most obvious reason for JA’s efforts to have Mably’s work published was its format. The pamphlet took the form of four letters to JA, dated 24 July, 6, 13, and 20 Aug., at Passy. In the English editions, the first letter began, “I have just read, with all the attention which it was in my power to pay the subject, the different constitutions formed by the United States of America for their respective uses; and, in obedience to your desire, I do myself the honor to submit to your perusal my sentiments concerning them; but not without expressing my hopes that you will obligingly point out to me the light in which I ought to view them” (Mably, Remarks, p. 1–2). Mably’s format and his decision to focus on American constitutions and government may reflect JA’s effort in Jan. 1783 to discourage him from undertaking a more ambitious work chronicling the history of the American Revolution (vol. 14:165–167, 172–181).
But JA’s desire to have the pamphlet published likely owed less to his agreement with the Observations than to a personal liking for Mably and to the Frenchman’s status as an influential author who was placing information about American efforts to create stable republican governments before an otherwise ill-informed European public. For as JA later noted in his Defence of the Constitutions— referring to Mably and other European authors—“there are in the productions of all of them, among many excellent things, some sentiments, however, that it will be difficult to reconcile to reason, experience, the constitution of human nature, or to the uniform testimony of the greatest statesmen, legislators, and philosophers of all enlightened nations, ancient and modern” (JA, Defence of the Const., 1:3).
3. JA likely thought of Willem Holtrop, an Amsterdam bookseller, because he had previously published Geschiedenis van het geschil tusschen Groot-Britannie en Amerika, zedert deszelfs oorsprong, in den jaare 1754, tot op den oegenwoordigen tijd, Door . . . John Adams, Amsterdam, 1782, a Dutch translation of an abridged version of JA’s Novanglus letters (vol. 13:458), but see note 5.
4. In the Letterbook, this paragraph was written below the closing and marked for insertion at this point.
5. J. F. Rosart & Co. published French and English editions of Mably’s work in 1784, for which see the firm’s letter of 21 March, Adams Papers. But Holtrop did not publish the Dutch translation, Brieven over de regeeringsvorm en wetten der Vereenigde Staaten van Noord-America aan zyne excellentie John Adams, at Amsterdam until 1785.
6. In JA’s hand.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0155

Author: Dumas, C. W. F.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-10-16

From C. W. F. Dumas

[salute] Monsieur

Ma derniere du 14e. étoit partie, lorsque celle de Mr. votre fils à mon Epouse nous apprit que vous avez été fort malade, &, heureusement, mieux à présent.1 Nous prenons la part que nous devons & à l’indisposition passée, & à votre convalescence, dont nous vous félicitons de grand coeur.
Mrs. Matthieu Van Arp & Co: m’écrivent ce qui suit d’Amst. 15e Oct.
“Le Vaisseau Américain l’Elisabeth, Patron Abraham Brun, { 315 } destiné d’ici aux Indes oc[ciden]tales, a été acheté par le dit Patron ici, est [encore?] sans Papiers, & doit aller trafiquer en differen[tes] Places des Indes occidentales. Je vous prie de m’envoyer pour ce Vaisseau un Passeport, signé par Mr. Adams, ou par vous com̃e son Chargé d’Affaires.— Ce Vaisseau appartient au dit Capitaine seul en propriété; & il vous demande instamment, de faire toute la diligence possible pour lui envoyer le Passeport, & aussi réponse à celle-ci par la poste de demain, avec votre promptitude connue. Au cas que vous n’ayez pas des Passeport de Mr. Adams, je vous prie de me le marquer d’abord, & de faire ensorte que je puisse, sur votre parole, assurer, que vous avez écrit sur ce sujet par premiere poste à Mr. Adams: car ce Vaisseau est très pressé de partir incessam̃ent.”2
Je marque donc ce soir à Mrs. M. Van Arp & Co: que je vous écris en conséquence.
Agréez, Monsieur, les respects de ma famille & les miens, & permettez que j’embrasse ici Mr. votre fils. / De Votre Excellence / Le très humble & très-obéissant / serviteur,
[signed] C.w.f. Dumas
P.S. La Garnison d’Utrecht en est sortie, selon les desirs de la Bourgeoisie, avant l’arrivée des troupes destinées à la remplacer; & il a fallu pour cela changer les Patentes; & moi en voyant tout ce que je vois, je m’écrie en stile oriental O Allah! qu’est-ce qu’un Prince sans Peuple? Et que n’est pas un Peuple sans Prince, dès qu’il le veut bien?3


[salute] Sir

My last of the 14th had already left when that from your son to my wife apprised us that you had been seriously ill and, happily, are now better.1 We are as solicitous for your past indisposition as for your convalescence, which we congratulate you on wholeheartedly.
Messrs. Matheus van Arp & Company wrote the following to me from Amsterdam on 15 October:
“The American vessel Elisabeth, owner Abraham Brun, whose destination is the West Indies, was bought here by the abovementioned owner, is still without papers, and is to trade in various places in the West Indies. I ask you to send me a passport for this vessel, signed by Mr. Adams or by you as his chargé d’affaires. This vessel belongs to the aforementioned captain as the sole proprietor, and he asks you to immediately exercise all possible diligence to send him the passport and to respond to this by tomorrow’s post with your well-known promptness. In case you do not have { 316 } passports from Mr. Adams, I ask you to make a note of that for me first and in such a way that I can make assurances that by your word of honor, you have written to Mr. Adams about this by the first post, since this vessel is in a great hurry to leave immediately.”2
I am sending a note this evening to Messrs. Matheus Van Arp & Company to let them know that I am writing you about this.
Please accept, sir, the respects of my family and of yours truly, and permit me to send warm greetings here to your son. Your excellency’s very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] C.w.f. Dumas
P.S. The garrison at Utrecht has left, following the wishes of the burgesses, before the arrival of the troops assigned to replace them, and for that reason it was necessary to change the letters patent. And I, seeing all that I see, I express myself in the oriental style: Oh, Allah! What is a prince without a people? And what cannot a people do without a prince, once they desire it?3
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Paris à S. E. Mr. Adams Min. Pl. des E. U.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.
1. Dumas’ letter of the 14th (Adams Papers) enclosed a copy of his 10 Oct. letter to Congress for JA to forward to America. Congress’ dispatch book indicates that the letter, numbered 32, reached Congress on 5 March 1784, but neither it nor five other letters dated 28 Sept. 1783, 24 Oct., 7 and 15 Nov., and 1 Dec., are in the PCC (PCC, No. 185, III, f. 95). JQA’s letter to Marie Dumas has not been found.
2. There is no indication that JA did anything regarding the letter from Van Arp & Company on behalf of the Elisabeth, and nothing further is known of the vessel.
3. The events at Utrecht are indicative of the rise of the Free Corps, Patriot military units independent of the stadholder. It was part of the Patriot Revolt and evidence of the growing ascendency of the Patriots over the Orangist forces of William V that would end with the 1787 expulsion of the stadholder and his subsequent restoration when Prussian forces occupied the Netherlands (Schama, Patriots and Liberators, p. 80–88, 103–106, 131–132). For accounts of the events at Utrecht, see the Gazette d’Amsterdam, 3, 10, 14, and 17 October. Dumas’ appeal to Allah touches directly on this conflict between William V and the people (i.e., Patriots).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0156

Author: Staphorst, Nicolaas & Jacob van (business)
Author: Willink, Wilhem & Jan (business)
Author: La Lande & Fynje, de (business)
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-10-16

From Wilhem & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, and De la Lande & Fynje

[salute] Sir!

Some time having elapsed since we had the honor of addressing your Excellency we now take the liberty of informing you Sir, of our having received Letters from Mr. Morris giving us Intelligence of certain Drafts, which he had partly already made on us and which he Should yet make, tho’ the total Amount together was much more than we now have in Cash for the United States of America.
His Excellency is in the Idea, that before this Time we Should { 317 } have provided for that which Mr. Grand may have occasion, tho’ not exactly knowing what that may be, we have given the necessary advice to Mr. Grand, that he must place no Reliance upon being furnished by us and we thought it advisable also to give your Excellency the Same notice.
It is exceedingly painfull for us in being obliged to Say, that the Success of the Loan Since the month of August is not Such as we had reason to expect, when in the Summer we had the honor of conversing with your Excellency. Besides the uncommon Scarcity of money, a principle cause of the Loans not Succeeding is the great Number of Accounts received of Disputes in America between the particular States & Congress. It is true this Intelligence is mostly communicated by the English News papers and is worthy of little or no Credit, even as we our selves look upon it, but it makes more impression upon the money Lenders, who always incline to mistrust without cause, especially at a time when thro’ a great concurrence of Loans they are not at a loss with their money. We are constantly hoping we Shall be able by receiving direct Intelligence from America to evince the Falshood of the English Accounts, or that your Excellency or the other ministers would do it, but to this time is this Hope not realized. If your Excellency was in possession of Authentic Intelligence upon this matter, we think the Publication of it would do much Service in procuring a better Success to our continual Endeavours for Selling of the Bonds.1
In Sentiments of the greatest Respect we have the honor to be / Sir! / Your Excellency’s / most obedt & hble. Servs:
[signed] Wilhem & Jan Willink
[signed] Nichs. & Jacob van Staphorst
[signed] de la Lande & fynje
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Messrs Willinks & Co. / 16. Oct. 1783.”
1. The letters from Robert Morris to the consortium cannot be identified with certainty, but by October virtually any demand from the “financier” for funds was viewed by the bankers as excessive and necessarily brought an appeal to JA. The consortium’s letter, its only extant communication to JA since [ca. 19] Aug., above, was also the first substantive report that JA had received on the progress of the Dutch-American loan since his visit to the Netherlands in late July and early August. At that time, after visiting the bankers, he observed “that there is not one foreign Loan, open in this Republick which is in so good Credit, or goes so quick as mine” (to Robert R. Livingston, 28 July, above). JA’s confidence seemed justified because from the opening of the loan in 1782 through July 1783, f3,137,000 had been raised, although most of that sum had been remitted to bankers in Paris, leaving the consortium with very little cash with which to meet any new demands. The problem was that as late as 5 Nov. Morris was apparently using the consortium’s success through July as the basis for estimating how much would { 318 } be raised in the future. However, during the next three months the situation changed drastically, with only f105,000 being subscribed: f70,000 in Aug., f25,000 in Sept., and only f10,000 in Oct. (DNA:RG 39, Foreign Ledgers, Public Agents in Europe, 1776–1787, Microfilm, Reel 1, f. 293; vol. 14:72; Morris, Papers, 8:735; to Robert Morris, 10 July, above). The consortium ascribed this decline, probably with justification, to the appearance in Dutch newspapers of troubling reports from America concerning dissension in the army, the impost and commutation controversies, and the June mutiny at Philadelphia that resulted in Congress’ flight from the city (Gazette d’Amsterdam, 11, 18, and 22 July, 22, 26, and 29 Aug., and 19 Sept.). No response by JA has been found. Certainly he would have been troubled by the discouraging news. It provided him with his first inkling of the deteriorating situation in the Netherlands. For JA’s decision to journey to the Netherlands in early 1784 after receiving even more dire reports, see the letters from the consortium of 2 and 23 Dec., Benjamin Franklin of 10 Dec., and Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst of 26 Dec., all below.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0157

Author: Morris, Robert
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-10-23

From Robert Morris

[salute] Sir

I do myself the Honor to enclose the Copy of a Letter which I have just written to Messrs. Wilhelm and Jan Willink, Nicolaas and Jacob Van Staphorst, De la Lande and Finje.1 This Letter will fully explain to your Excellency the Means I have adopted to bring our Funds into the most speedy Operation. Should the Plan meet your Approbation (which I hope may be the Case) I shall then rely on the Exertion of the great Influence you have so deservedly acquired for carrying it into Effect It will I am sure be as pleasing to you as it can be to me to find that the Disposition of our Country is turning fast towards those Measures of public Justice which can alone render her great and respected. Permit me to participate in the Satisfaction you must feel from Knowing that the honorable Sentiments so well inculcated in your Letters have greatly influenced in promoting that useful Disposition.—
I am Sir with unfeigned Esteem & Respect / your most obedient / and / huml Servant
[signed] Rm.—
FC (DLC:Morris Papers); internal address: “His Excelly. John Adams—”
1. In his letter to the Willinks, Van Staphorsts, and De la Lande & Fynje of 23 Oct., Morris alerted the loan consortium that he had drawn bills of exchange, each worth 250,000 guilders, for three Philadelphia mercantile houses (Morris, Papers, 8:658–660). Upon receiving Morris’ letter, the consortium and the firm of Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst separately wrote to JA expressing concern about the consortium’s ability to cover the amount and discussing possible steps to be taken to avoid nonpayment (23 and 26 Dec., respectively, below). Those letters were a principal motivation for JA’s decision to go to the Netherlands at the beginning of Jan. 1784; but see also the consortium’s letters of 16 Oct., above, and 2 Dec., below.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0158

Author: Staphorst, Nicolaas & Jacob van (business)
Author: Willink, Wilhem & Jan (business)
Author: La Lande & Fynje, de (business)
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-10-24

From Wilhem & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, and De la Lande & Fynje

[salute] Sir

We have the honour to acknowledge the Receipt of yoúr Esteemed favoúr of 14th. Instant. by which we observe with much Sorrow the Attack of a fever yoúr Excelly. has been troubled with, We hope it will not have been of any Continuance, but that we Shall Soon have the pleasúre to be informed of yoúr Excelly. being Restored to perfect health.
Our Last to yoúr Excelly. was of the 16th. Instt., but as we fear Said Letter will not have Reached yoúr hands before yoúr departure to London, we inclose herein its Copy for yoúr Excelly’s. perusal—.1 and as we Crave reference to it; we have the honoúr in Compliance to yoúr Excellys. desire to advice you, that the Number of Obligations Remaining to be disposed of are 1768.—.
Allways disposed to be of any Service to your Excelly. we are going to Lodge a Credit in yoúr Excelly’s. favoúr at Messs. C. & Rd. Puller in London, with Order to pay yoúr Excelly. whatever Sum of Money yoúr Excelly. maybe Wanted.—2
As we Can’t See yoúr Excells. Coming to Amsterdam Will occasion any benefit to the Loan, we think if your Excelly. particular business does not necessarily Require this Turn, yoúr Excellency may for the benefit of his health, renounce to the fatigues of Such a Voiage.
We Remain Always with the Sincerest Esteem / Sir / Yoúr Excellys. most obedt. / most humble Servants.
[signed] Wilhem & Jan Willink
[signed] Nichs. & Jacob van Staphorst
[signed] de la Lande & fynje
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “To his Excelly. John Adams Esqr. / London.”
1. The enclosure is not with this letter in the Adams Papers, but see the consortium’s original letter of 16 Oct. directed to JA at Paris, above.
2. This is the firm of Richard and Charles Puller, No. 10, Broadstreet Buildings, London (JA, D&A, 3:172). According to JA’s accounts on the last page of his Letterbook, the firm supplied him with 200 guineas or £210 on 17 Nov. and 8 Dec. (LbC, APM Reel 107).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0159

Author: Ridley, Matthew
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-10-26

From Matthew Ridley

[salute] Sir

I now inclose you four Letters received since your departure—1
Several very heavey failures have happen’d at Paris— One of them is the House of Bost Horion & Co. for upwards of 3,000,000.₶— Some others are talkd of.— The Affairs of the Caisse D’Escompte are now pretty well settled & the Managers talk of beginning to pay in Specie in the Month of Novemr:2
By the London papers I see that Barney arrived the 9th: of Septemr.— There is a Letter of Sr. Guy Carletons of the 17th. Augt: which appears to me a kind of half refusal to quit New-York— It is a whole one in some respects & the Generals disposition seems to me very ripe to refuse in toto.—3
I expect Mr. Barclay in a few days— Mrs. Ridley has been exceedingly ill; but I now begin to have Hopes— The rest of the Family Bravely & all desire to be remembered to you & Son— Be pleased to inform Mr Jay I was at Passy last Night & that all were well there, but Mrs. Jay a little impatient to hear of his safe Arrival.
With respect I have the Honor to be / Sir / Your most Obedient / humble Servant
[signed] Matt: Ridley
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency Jno. Adams Esq.”
1. The enclosed letters have not been found, but may have been the 16 Oct. letters from C. W. F. Dumas and the consortium, both above, and those of 14 Oct. from Dumas and 25 Oct. from an otherwise unidentified Frenchman named Ducher (both Adams Papers). Dumas’ was a covering letter for a 10 Oct. letter to the president of Congress, for which see Dumas’ letter of 16 Oct., and note 1, above. Ducher, writing at Paris, inquired about letters of recommendation from JA to be used when he arrived in America.
2. The Caisse d’escompte had been established by royal charter in 1776 as an undercapitalized equivalent of the Bank of England. Its suspension of specie payments in September was blamed on a shortage of specie in Europe and the French government’s excessive borrowing (Morris, Papers, 8:759; Schama, Citizens, p. 230). As Ridley indicates, the crisis was on its way to being resolved, but the failure of Bost Horion & Cie. affected him directly, for several bills drawn on that firm and remitted to him by Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst were protested (Ridley to Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, 26 Oct., MHi:Ridley Letterbooks); but see also Ridley’s letter of 27 Dec., below.
3. Sir Guy Carleton’s letter of 17 Aug. to the president of Congress reported the arrival of his “final Orders for the evacuation of this place.” He doubted, however, if the evacuation could be completed as soon as might be hoped. He attributed any delay to the increased numbers of loyalists seeking refuge within his lines because of reprisals undertaken against them. Carleton blamed the situation on Congress’ refusal to implement the recommendatory provisions in the preliminary treaty pertaining to the loyalists (PCC, No. 52, f. 217–222).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0160

Author: Warren, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-10-27

From James Warren

[salute] Dear Sir,

Your Favours of the 20th: & 21st: of March, and the 9th: 12th: 13th: & 16th: of April, have come safe to Hand, but did not reach me till this Month, & found me on this Hill, at Work among my Potatoes, instead of being in Congress “at the great Wheel,”—1 Nor do I regret this on my own Account, I am quite contented with a private Life, & my Ambition is quite satisfied by excelling in the perfection of my Composts, the Culture of my Lands, & in the Quality & Abundance of my Crops;—but I own I sometimes wish to be at the Wheel to serve my Country, & to support her Friends, & my Own, who I am happy to say are always the same, & never more than since I receiv’d Your Letters.— for though my Ideas with regard to the Politicks & Conduct of the French Court, were in general right before, You have certainly given me some new Ones with regard to the Folly of our Own,—from this Folly (by which I mean not only Weakness but Corruption) has proceeded all the Difficulties Embarrassments, Neglects, & even Insults that You, & other honest Men have suffer’d, and the Dangers this Country has been expos’d to, and from which it has by the Vigilance, Industry, & Ability of a Few been rescued with Difficulty— The Foreign Influence (or the French & Frankleian Politicks) which produces all this is very extensive, & very strong, the Traits of it are to be seen every where, in Boston, as well as Philadelphia, but to be sure the last is the Place where the Focus is collected, & where it operates with its greatest Force. An honest Young Gentleman sent there to represent his Country, & who feels & resents with Spirit its Injuries, in a Fortnight will be soften’d, & in another Week become quite Tame & Compliant, Louisdores must have a Share in such wonderful Conversions, & I think I can observe the Effects of them at Boston— I am told that Congress since they left Philadelphia have acted with more Freedom than before, it is to be wish’d they may never return— This Influence is greatly strengthen’d by an Union with those who wish to Establish an Oligarchy, & who have nearly effected it, these play into each others Hands, & by their joint Efforts bear down all Opposition— Morris is a King, & more than a King, He has the Keys of the Treasury at his Command, Appropriates Money as he pleases, & every Body must look up to him for Justice & for Favour.— When Wilson succeeds as Minister for Foreign Affairs, Fitzwilliams is at { 322 } the Head of the Marine, & a Suitable Person succeeds Genl Lincoln, who has resign’d the War Department, when he shall say what Number of Troops shall be kept up, & have an Host of New Placemen to collect an Impost Mortgaged for Twenty-five Years, he will have us all in his Pocket;—2 It is this Alliance that makes me tremble,—the Foreign Influence might be destroy’d, or be discourag’d by the Expence, or ballanc’d by Ministers from other Courts, especially from Britain, but if this Oligarchal System is not Annihilated, I think our Liberties must be.— You will be able to Judge from all this what an Influence Money & Fortune give a Man in this Country, especially when you recollect the Character you have heard given of this Man, & his Abilities; & You will no longer wonder at the want of Intelligence, because much is to be done to accomodate Matters to their System before it is given.— This will Account for the Revocation of the Commission for a Treaty of Commerce, however fatal it may probably prove to the Interests of our Country, for the wrong Sentiments prevailing with regard to Commerce, & for the Plan of a Monoply now subsisting in Favour of France our disinterested & generous Ally;—for the Obstructions to your Negotiations in Holland:—for your Instructions at different Times,—& why no Appointment has been made to the Court of Great Britain, & for the ill Conduct of our Foreign Affairs in All respects.— No Appointment is yet made to the Court of Britain, because your Character & Conduct is so unexceptionable & Good in the Eyes of all honest Men, & the People in General, that they dare not yet treat You with that Neglect that is consistent with their Veiws, & yet they can’t wish to have You the Man—thus they Jockey, & Play into each others Hands, & gratify the Court & the Doctor.— I sincerely with all the Ardour of Friendship & Patriotism lament your want of Health & Support, I have pray’d for your Health, & done all in my Power in my small Circle to give you Support, & have very good Reasons why I have not given it in a Place where it might have been more Efficacious,— I could not go to Congress immediately on my Election which was out of Season, & Unexpected, & before I had an Oppertunity I was prevented by Sickness.—
What shall I say about your coming Home? You know that as a Friend I wish to see You,—Your Country wants You here,—Your Family would be happy to have You return,— But where & in what Situation should we have been if You & Mr Jay had not been in Europe? When I form an Idea of it I feel like a Man that has had a { 323 } Hair-Breadth Escape from a Precipice— Your Delineation of the Character & Veiws of a Young Nobleman is exceedingly Just, & shews in a convincing Light the wrong policy of our Country in their Instructions, even if it could possibly be good Policy to let down & humble their Ministers;—3 After all I don’t know that I detest any Character more than that of the Old Man, who is, as You might expect Your determin’d Enemy,— You will before this reaches You get a Paragraph of one of his Letters, which if You should by an Interval be in possession of Your right Mind will put the Matter out of Doubt;—4 How long will he live? & if he lives how long can he be able to preserve the good Opinion & Confidence of his Country? The Bubble must burst soon, or Mankind are more lost to Sentiment & Virtue, than I can suppose.— I wish instead of being a Door-Keeper for three or four Days You could be on a Seat in Congress, & have a full Swing in developing the Character & Conduct of this Man, & descanting on the false Politicks of Your Country,— I should like to be Your Colleague.—
With regard to the State of our particular Affairs, Government here is in the same Hands. Our Delegates are Gerry, Partridge, Osgood, Sullivan & Danielson,— the Wisdom of our Legislature have left out Holton & Higginson two very good & uncorrupt Men for the sake of the two last—5 The great Political Object that now engages the Contemplation of the Continent is the Support of Publick Credit, & it is indeed an Object worthy their serious Deliberations, & should be done— The Financier proposes an Impost as Part of the Plan,— Congress have recommended it by their Act,— Our Assembly in the present Session have again pass’d it, but by a small Majority of only three in the House of Representatives, this is favorable to the System I have describ’d,— I don’t like it because I think it injurious to Commerce, & dangerous to Publick Liberty, & because I think a more safe, sure, & easy Way may be devis’d for doing it—
I am, sincerely Yr Friend, / & most Hume: Servt:
[signed] J Warren
New-York is still possess’d by the Enemy, the Want of Transports, & the safety of the Loyalists have been the pretences for delaying the Evacuation, but I think they are now seriously providing for it, & I believe it will be done soon.— Great Quantities of European Goods have since the Peace pour’d in upon us from every Quarter, & most of them in Foreign Bottoms; but the miserable Market they have come to, must discourage them in future, & perhaps work a { 324 } Cure for the Evil, & leave us to import for ourselves, & on our own Bottoms.— The Abundance of fine Things have however destroyed the Ideas of Frugality which Necessity had before given, & drain’d us of our Money,—how a sufficiency has been found to purchase what has been brought us, is beyond my Comprehension.— Our Fisheries the last Season have for want of Vessels been very inconsiderable, but growing fast into Importance;— I suppose the Manufactory of Pot, & Pearl-Ashes will soon recover their former Perfection, and that the Quantities of Flax Seed will this Year be considerable.— Some Emigrations from the Old Countries, cheifly from Ireland have been made to the Southern States, but none have arriv’d here, which I wonder at;— A Moderate Proportion would be serviceable, we want Labourers, & we want Occupiers for some of our Vacant Lands,— I don’t like the predilection they shew in favour of the Southern States.— The immense Territory acquir’d by the Treaty of Peace, & the ample Provision for the Extent & Security of our Fishery gratify the most sanguine Wishes of your Friends, while Your Enemies dare not deny that we are under Providence indebted to You for these great Acquisitions—
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency John Adams Esqr”; endorsed: “Warren Oct. 27 / 1783.”
1. Vol. 14:345–356, 387–390, 401–406, 417–419. These letters, the first two of which were originally intended for Robert R. Livingston, were critical of Benjamin Franklin, France, and Congress’ conduct of foreign affairs. JA directed them to Warren at Philadelphia on the assumption that his friend was serving in Congress.
2. Warren alludes to the faction comprising Robert Morris, James Wilson, Thomas Fitzsimmons, and other Middle States nationalists that emerged in late 1782 and early 1783. Both Wilson and Fitzsimmons (1741–1811), a Philadelphia merchant, represented Pennsylvania in the Continental Congress at the time. Both were close associates of Morris and shared his commitment to strengthening the scope and power of the central government, particularly with regard to fiscal matters (H. James Henderson, Party Politics in the Continental Congress, N.Y., 1974, p. 318–321, 328–329, 342–343; DAB).
3. The Marquis de Lafayette. See JA’s 16 April letter to Warren, vol. 14:417–419.
4. Warren had seen the extract from Franklin’s 22 July letter to Livingston that Elbridge Gerry sent to AA with his letter of 18 Sept. (AFC, 5:250–252). For the entire letter, see Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 6:580–588; and for its origins, see the commissioners’ 18 July letter to Livingston, and Editorial Note, above. Gerry enjoined AA “to keep the Matter a profound Secret, excepting to Mr. Adams, General Warren and Lady.” AA, after seeing Warren’s reference to it in this letter, forwarded the extract to JA in her letter of 15 Dec., which JA received on 5 May 1784 (AFC, 5:278–282).
5. Dr. Samuel Holten of Danvers and Stephen Higginson of Salem served in Congress from March through Sept. 1783. Timothy Danielson and James Sullivan were chosen to replace them when the Mass. General Court held elections on 28 June, but both declined to serve. Warren, writing to JA on 26 Feb. 1784, declared “Good Providence has so Ordered for our Good that Sullivan has resigned” (Adams Papers). Holten ultimately was returned to Congress on 24 Oct. 1783, serving continuously until 1785 and again in 1787 (Biog. Dir. Cong.; Smith, Letters of Delegates, 20:xix; 21:xx). { 325 }
Warren likely objected to the election of Sullivan and Danielson because of their close political association with John Hancock. Moreover, Sullivan—notoriously combative—recently had found himself at the center of a bitter controversy when, in the spring of 1783, he was elected to the Mass. house of representatives for the city of Boston although he failed to meet the residency requirements. Danielson’s reputation also had been damaged that year, as he faced serious financial problems that nearly sent him to jail for debt. AA, in a letter of 30 June, attributed the turnover in the Massachusetts delegation to strong opposition within the state to the commutation of pay for Continental Army officers, for which see Cotton Tufts to JA, 26 June, and note 4, above (Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, 14:13, 15:304–308; AFC, 5:188–191). See also William Gordon’s letter of 28 June, above.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0161

Author: President of Congress
Recipient: American Peace Commissioners
Date: 1783-10-27

The President of Congress to the American Peace Commissioners

[salute] Gentlemen

Previous to my leaving the Chair of Congress, I take the liberty again to address you, merely as an individual that you may not be left totally without Information until the Choice of a Minister for foreign Affairs shall take place. I have pressed Congress much on this subject, and am fully convinced of the difficult Situation you must be in for want of Information from this important Office— I have the honor of acknowledging the rect of your several favours of the ———1 My last addressed to you, was on the 15th of July giving you a minute account of the Mutiny of the Soldiers in Philadelphia and of our subsequent removal to this Place—since which we have remained here tho. in but indifferent Circumstances of accommodation— Congress lately have determined to fix their place of Residence at the Head of the Delaware over the Falls of Trenton— They take in contemplation to fix another place the Falls of Potomack near Georgetown and to sit alternately at each Place year about— They have also determined to adjourn on the 8th Novr to Annapolis for their temporary residence—2 They have also passed several important Acts lately, which you will see by the several Proclamations contained in the Newspapers which I do myself the honor of transmitting herewith from the month of Sept 2d ———3 Congress have not yet taken the Appointment of a minister for foreign Affairs under Consideration, as their Time is principally taken up with previous measures of a Peace arrangement both Civil & Military— It will now be put off till the removal to Annapolis— I shall add to this Letter (I believe) several Acts of Congress In consequence of a Report on your last Official Letter we have been most Anxiously { 326 } (looking(?)) for the Definitive Treaty which is really a matter of much more importance in this Country than it is in Europe— The States at best cannot be convinced that Peace is made to any Purpose without this welcome Act, and the Conduct of the British in these States has confirmed them in the Opinion— We lately sent Baron Steuben to Canada to settle with Genl Waldenson the Time and manner of delivering up & receiving the Posts and fortifications on the Frontiers whenever that Genl should be ready so to do— He was refused even a conference on the subject— Genl Waldenson declaring that he knew of no Peace between Britain and America, that his orders were to cease Hostilities which he had carefully done but could go no further— The Baron thinks they are planning their schemes in Canada for holding the Frontier Posts for a year or two longer which would prove ruinous to these States rendition of them must be urged without delay.4 The Minister from Holland is arrived and to receive his public Audience on Friday next.5
The Effects of the Mutiny in Philadelphia are all done away— The Sergeants who were condemned to die, recd Pardon from Congress in the very last moment of despair this has had a good Effect and the Army have been disbanded without any bad consequences but unhappily without Money.6
Yesterday we gave public audience to Mr Van Berckel— Just before the Ceremony began Col Ogden arrived with the News of the completion of the Definitive Treaty, this gave a large addition to the general Joy that was already great on the occasion of the Day—7 Mr Van Berckel appears to be a person very much suited to the Manners of our People and I am very much mistaken if he does not do great honor to his Commission— I shall endeavour to enclose his address and our answer—
This Morning Congress met & made choice of a new President for the ensuing Year General Mifflin was unanimously chosen, tho’ absent I suppose he will take the Chair in a day or two— I feel myself very happy in having filled up my year and that after having devoted myself altogether to the Public Service for near eight years, I am like to retire to private Life under the blessings of so glorious a Peace— My Presidentship has also been honored by the Signature of { 327 } both Preliminary Articles & Definitive Treaty which has greatly compensated for all my other Sacrifices.
[signed] E B.
MS not found. Printed from J. J. Boudinot, ed., The Life of Elias Boudinot, 1:410–413; internal address: “To The Honble Commissioners”; notation: “Commissioners / Private.”
1. This letter points out the problem facing Congress and the commissioners in the absence of a secretary for foreign affairs, which left no one with the authority—Boudinot writes “merely as an individual” and does not actually reply to any letters received—to answer the commissioners’ letters or issue instructions. Counting Boudinot’s letter, only three letters had been addressed to the commissioners since 1 June. Since Boudinot’s last letter, of 15 July, however, Congress’ dispatch book indicates that it had received 42 letters: two from the commissioners as a group, 24 from JA, four from Benjamin Franklin, six from John Jay, and six from Henry Laurens (PCC, No. 185, III, f. 71–85).
2. For two weeks in mid-October, Congress fiercely debated prospective temporary and permanent residences for the federal government. Commencing the discussion on 6 Oct., Congress resolved the following day that buildings should be erected on the banks of the Delaware, near the falls, as a permanent meeting site. Bitter opposition from southern delegates led Congress to reconsider this decision, and the body eventually resolved on 21 Oct. to establish a second “federal town” on the banks of the Potomac. Until the government buildings on the Delaware and Potomac were completed, Congress agreed to meet alternately at Trenton and Annapolis (JCC, 25:646–660, 711–714; Smith, Letters of Delegates, 21:88, 99).
3. Asserting a congressional power established under the Articles of Confederation, Congress issued a proclamation on 22 Sept. that affirmed the United States government’s (as opposed to the individual states’) exclusive control over the purchasing or receiving of land from Indian nations. Another proclamation, approved in Congress on 25 Sept., announced the ratification of a treaty of amity and commerce between Sweden and the United States. Two additional acts, both dated 18 Oct., appeared in American newspapers prior to 27 October. One discharged soldiers of the army as of 3 Nov., thanking them for their service; the other named the second Thursday of December a day of public thanksgiving (Pennsylvania Gazette, 15 Oct.; Pennsylvania Packet, 23, 25 Oct.).
4. Rather than “Genl Waldenson” the reference should be to “Genl Haldimand.” On 20 July, Gen. Friedrich von Steuben left West Point to meet at Sorel, Quebec, with Gen. Frederic Haldimand, British commander-in-chief in Canada, regarding the transfer of British-occupied frontier posts in U.S. territories to American control. Steuben reported to George Washington that Haldimand refused to make arrangements for evacuation, denying him the right even to visit the posts. A similar mission undertaken by Lt. Col. William Hull in the summer of 1784 was also unsuccessful, and the posts in question remained in British hands for another thirteen years (John McAuley Palmer, General Von Steuben, New Haven, Conn., 1937, p. 312–314; Smith, Letters of Delegates, 20:643–645; Washington, Papers, Confederation Series, 2:10–11). On Haldimand, see also vol. 3:33.
5. Pieter Johan van Berckel, minister plenipotentiary from the Netherlands, informed the president of Congress of his arrival in the United States in a letter of 19 Oct., to which Boudinot replied on 24 October. Boudinot presented Van Berckel’s message, as well as the letter of credence enclosed in it, to Congress on 25 Oct. (Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 6:713–714). As Boudinot notes in the paragraph dated 1 Nov., Congress formally received Van Berckel on 31 Oct., at which time the minister addressed the delegates. Citing the Netherlands’ support of the American struggle for independence, Van Berckel congratulated Congress on the revolution’s success and pledged to nurture the commercial relationship between the two nations. Boudinot’s answer similarly emphasized the history of friendship between the Americans and Dutch, pointing specifically to the treaty of amity and commerce signed the year before (JCC, 25:780–786).
6. Maj. Gen. Robert Howe, directed by Washington in June 1783 to suppress the mutiny of Pennsylvania soldiers that drove Congress out of Philadelphia, subsequently held courts-martial at a military camp { 328 } outside the city to prosecute participants in the uprising. The court convicted two sergeants of the 3d Pennsylvania Regiment, Christian Nagle and John Morrison, sentencing them to death; four additional soldiers were to receive corporal punishment. Congress resolved on 13 Sept. to grant all of the convicted soldiers a full pardon. Congress justified its decision by arguing, “Whereas the said prisoners appear not to have been principals in the said mutiny, and no lives having been lost, nor any destruction of property committed . . . the United States in Congress assembled, have thought fit to pardon and remit.” Boudinot notified Howe of the resolution in a letter written later that day, leaving it up to him when to inform the soldiers of Congress’ intervention on their behalf. Howe waited until minutes before the two sergeants’ scheduled execution on 22 Sept. to issue the pardon. A local newspaper reported that “the two unhappy men received this most agreeable news at the awful moment when they expected to be summoned into eternity” (president of Congress to the commissioners, 15 July, above; JCC, 25:565–567; Smith, Letters of Delegates, 20:666–667; Pennsylvania Packet, 27 Sept.).
7. News of the definitive peace treaty reached Boston first, conveyed by passengers in the ship Robin-Hood, Capt. Smith, which arrived at Cape Ann on 22 October. The Boston Evening Post of 25 Oct. reported that the gentlemen on board pronounced “that the DEFINITIVE TREATY WAS ABSOLUTELY SIGNED ON THE SECOND DAY OF SEPTEMBER LAST; but that it did not come in the Ship.” When the letters and papers on the vessel became available, a letter written in London on 6 Sept. began to appear in American newspapers, claiming “The Definitive Treaty with the United States of America was also signed at Paris the third instant, by David Hartley, Esq his Majesty’s Plenipotentiary, and the Plenipotentiaries of those States” (see, for example, the Boston Independent Ledger, 27 Oct., and the Pennsylvania Packet, 6 Nov.). Word of the treaty first appeared in the Pennsylvania press on 1 Nov., after Col. Matthias Ogden arrived in New York from London to confirm the news. The Pennsylvania Packet of that date reported, “in last night’s New-York stage came passenger the reverend Mr. Rogers, from that city, which he left on Thursday afternoon. He brings us the very important and agreeable intelligence of the definitive treaty of peace being signed at Paris on the third of September last. The account was brought to New-York from Boston . . . And we have the pleasure of mentioning another channel by which this news is certified;—just as our informant came away, the ship Harford, captain Folger, arrived at New-York in 30 days from London; in her came passenger, colonel Ogden, who confirms the happy tidings beyond a doubt.”

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0162

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1783-10-29 - 1783-11-12

John Adams’ Account with John Stockdale

John Adams Esq. to John Stockdale
Oct.   29.   1 qr fools Cap 1/2  1 qr Blotting Paper   0:    1:   10  
    1 qr large thick post gilt   0:    1:    3  
  30.   Pens 1d.  1 qr blotting Paper 8d   0:    0:    9  
    1 qr fools Cap 1/2  1. d. post Gilt 1/3   0:    2:    5  
    Isabella a Play2        6  
    Wax 1.  Wafers 6d   0:    1:    6  
  31.   Tape        6  
Nov.    1.   Transactions of the Society of Arts3   0:    4:    0  
   4.   Engraving a Plate4   0:    5:    0  
    Printing 300 Cards   0:    4:    6  
{ 329 }
  12.   1 bl of Sealing Wax   0:    7:    0  
    Engraving a Plate of Arms   1:    1:    0  
    Whartons Virgil 4 vol.5   1:    4:    0  
      £ 3:   14:    3  
      2:   13:    06  
1. On 29 Oct., JA and JQA moved into apartments in London maintained by John Stockdale, where Henry Laurens had resided earlier in the year (JA, D&A, 3:149; JQA, Diary, 1:197). Stockdale, a London bookseller and printer, published JA’s A Translation of the Memorial to the Sovereigns of Europe . . . into Common Sense and Intelligible English in 1781. Later, in 1784, he would publish JA’s History of the Dispute with America, an abridged version of JA’s Novanglus letters taken from John Almon’s Remembrancer for 1775; and, in 1787–1788, JA’s three-volume Defence of the Const. (vol. 2:224; vol. 11:ix; vol. 14:266–267; JA, Defence of the Const., 2:title page).
2. David Garrick, Isabella; or, The Fatal Marriage, London, 1757. JQA’s Diary indicates that he, and probably JA, attended the play at the Drury Lane Theatre on 31 Oct. 1783 (JQA, Diary, 1:198). Sarah Siddons played Isabella, and in a 4 Nov. letter to Peter Jay Munro (NNMus), JQA wrote that “Friday evening, I went . . . to see that wonderful, wonderful, wonder of wonders, Mrs: Siddons. The most capital performer upon the Stage; not only of Europe, at present, but that ever was seen. . . . She out Garrick’s Garrick, Sir, cent per cent. she play’d that evening Isabella in the Fatal marriage: you probably know nothing of this piece: it is the deepest Tragedy I ever saw or read: and I must confess I never saw any player, so possessed of the pathetic, as this said Mrs: Siddons. all the audience were in Tears.” Neither this nor the other publications indicated at notes 3 and 5 are in JA’s library at MB. This may mean that when the Adamses left London for the Netherlands they left their books with John Stockdale, intending to retrieve them later, for which see AFC, 5:329–330, 338.
3. Presumably the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, which JQA visited on 7 Nov. (JQA, Diary, 1:200–201).
4. This may be the bookplate described by Henry Adams in the Catalogue of JQA’s Books, p. 138–139. For more on the bookplate, see Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 4, above. Why a second entry for the engraving of a plate of arms was included in the account and then crossed out, below, is not known.
5. Probably Joseph Warton’s The Works of Virgil, in Latin and English, 4 vols., London, 1753.
6. Subtraction is incorrect; £3.14.3 minus £1.1.0 is £2.13.3 rather than £2.13.0.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0163

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: American Peace Commissioners
Date: 1783-10-29

Instructions to the American Peace Commissioners

By The United States in Congress Assembled
To the Ministers Plenipotentiary of the United States of America, at the Court of Versailles empowered to negociate a Peace, or to any one or more of them.
First. You are instructed and authorised to announce to his Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Germany or to his Ministers the high Sense which the United States in Congress assembled entertain of { 330 } { 331 } his exalted Character and eminent virtues, and their earnest desire to Cultivate his Friendship, and to enter into a Treaty of Amity and Commerce for the mutual advantage of the Subjects of his Imperial Majesty & the Citizens of these United States.2
Secondly. You are Instructed to meet the Advances and encourage the Disposition, of the other Commercial powers of Europe for entering into Treaties of Amity and Commerce with these United States. In Negociations on this subject you will lay it down as a principle, in no case to be deviated from that they shall respectively have for their Basis the mutual Advantage of the contracting Parties on terms of the most perfect equality and reciprocity and not to be repugnant to any of the Treaties already entered into by the United States with France, and other Foreign Powers. That such Treaties shall in the first instance be proposed for a term not exceeding fifteen Years, and shall not be finally conclusive until they shall respectively, have been transmitted to the United States in Congress Assembled for their examination and final directions and that with the draughts or propositions for such Treaties, shall be transmitted all the information which shall come within the knowledge of the said Ministers respecting the same and their Observations after the most mature enquiry on the probable advantages or disadvantages & effects of such Treaties respectively.3
Thirdly. You are instructed to continue to press upon the Ministers of his Danish Majesty the justice of causing satisfaction to be made for the Value of the Ships and Goods Captured by the Alliance Frigate and sent into Bergen, and how essentially it concerns the Honour of the United States that their gallant Citizens should not be deprived of any part of those Prizes which they had so justly acquired by their valour. That as far as Congress have been informed, the estimate of those Prizes at fifty thousand pounds Sterling is not immoderate; that no more however is desired than their true value, after every deduction which shall be thought equitable. That Congress have a sincere disposition to cultivate the friendship of his Danish Majesty and to promote a commercial intercourse between his Subjects and the Citizens of the United States on terms which shall promise mutual advantage to both Nations. That it is therefore the wish of Congress that this claim should still be referred to the equitable disposition of his Danish Majesty in full confidence that the reasonable expectations of the Parties interested will be fully answered; accordingly you are fully authorised and directed after exerting your best endeavours to enforce the said claim { 332 } to the extent it shall appear to you to be well founded, to make abatements if necessary, and ultimately to accept such compensation as his Danish Majesty can be prevailed on to grant.4
Fourthly. You are further instructed to enquire and report to Congress the reasons why the expedition of the Alliance and Bon homme Richard and the Squadron which accompanied them was carried on at the expence and on account of the Court of France? Whether any part of the prophet arising therefrom accrued to the United States; or any of the expence thereof hath been placed to their account? Whether the proceeds of any of the Prizes taken in that expedition and which is due to the American Officers and Seamen employed therein is deposited in Europe, and what amount, where; and in whose hands?5
Fifthly— The acquisition of support to the Independence of the United States having been the primary object of the instructions to our Ministers respecting the Convention of the neutral Maritime Powers for maintaining the freedom of Commerce, you will observe that the necessity of such support is superceded by the Treaties lately entered into for restoring Peace. And although Congress approve of the principles of that Convention, as it was founded on the liberal basis of maintinance of the Rights of Neutral Nations and of the Priviledges of Commerce; yet they are unwilling at this juncture to become a party to a Confederacy which may hereafter too far complicate the interests of the United States with the Politics of Europe, and therefore if such a progress is not already made in this business as may render it dishonourable to recede, it is the desire of Congress, and their instruction to each of the Ministers of the United States at the respective Courts in Europe, that no further measures be taken at present toward the admission of the United States into that Confederacy.6
Sixthly. The Ministers of these United States for negociating a peace with Great Britain are hereby instructed authorised and directed to urge forward the definitive Treaty to a speedy Conclusion and unless there shall be an immediate prospect of obtaining Articles or explanations be beneficial to the United States in addition to the provisional Articles, that they shall agree to adopt the provisional Articles as the Substance of a Definitive Treaty of Peace.
Seventhly. The Minister or Ministers of these United States for Negociating a Peace are hereby instructed to Negociate an explanation of the following Paragraph of the declaration acceded to by them on the 20th of January 1783. relative to Captures viz: “That the { 333 } term should be one month from the Channel and North Sea as far as the Canary Islands inclusively whether in the Ocean or the Mediterranean.”7
Eighthly. Mr. Jay is hereby authorised to direct Mr Carmichael to repair to Paris should Mr. Jay be of opinion that the interest of the United States at the Court of Madrid may not be injured by Mr: Carmichael’s absence; and that Mr: Carmichael carry with him the Books and Vouchers necessary to make a final and compleat settlement of the account of public monies which have passed through the hands of Mr: Jay and himself; and that Mr Barclay attend Mr: Jay and Mr: Carmichael to adjust those Accounts.
Ninthly. Mr: Jay has leave to go to Bath, should he find it necessary for the benefit of his health—8
[signed] Cha Thomson secy.
FC in JQA’s hand (Adams Papers); endorsed in JA’s hand: “Copy of / Instructions 29. Oct. 1783.”
1. JA received these instructions as an enclosure to the president of Congress’ 1 Nov. letter to the commissioners, below, at London on 5 December. He had JQA copy them and then sent the original instructions and the letter on to Benjamin Franklin at Passy (to Franklin, 5 Dec.; to John Jay, 7 Dec., both below).
2. JA likely saw this instruction and the following one as proceeding from, and expanding on, Congress’ resolution of 1 May authorizing the peace commissioners to negotiate an Anglo-American commercial agreement (JCC, 24:320–321). In his 5 Dec. letter to Franklin, below, JA indicated his assumption that a commission to that purpose likely was included with a separate packet directed to Franklin. As Franklin indicated in his reply of 10 Dec., below, such was not the case, and in the absence of a commission specifically granting the commissioners plenipotentiary powers to negotiate commercial treaties with Britain and other European nations, the instructions could have no substantive effect beyond encouraging the commissioners to solicit proposals for treaties that might be negotiated when a commission arrived. Congress issued no such commission until 7 May 1784 (JCC, 26:357–362), but see note 3.
3. The principal problem with Congress’ directions for negotiating treaties with European nations, which became evident when the negotiation of a Prussian-American treaty began in March 1784, was in the final sentence of the second instruction. As Elbridge Gerry noted in his letter of 14 Jan. 1784, below, the commissioners were permitted to negotiate, but they could not sign a treaty. The unsigned draft agreement had to be sent to Congress for consideration and likely modification. This would lengthen the negotiation process and likely make the conclusion of any treaties impossible. On 22 Dec. 1783 a committee composed of Gerry, Thomas Jefferson, and Hugh Williamson presented a report proposing to supplement and amplify the instructions of 29 October. Among the suggested changes was the proviso “that a Commission be issued to Mr Adams, Mr Franklin, and Mr Jefferson giving powers to them, or the greater part of them to make and receive propositions for such treaties of amity and commerce, and to negotiate and sign the same, transmitting them to Congress for their final ratification.” This provision was included in the commission voted on 7 May 1784 (JCC, 25:821–825; 26:362). For Gerry’s account of the final resolution of the issue, see his 16 June 1784 letter to JA, Smith, Letters of Delegates, 21:685–687.
4. This instruction proceeded from Franklin’s letter of 22 July 1783 to Robert R. Livingston in which he referred to his efforts to resolve the dispute with Denmark over prizes taken by the frigate Alliance in the course of the 1779 Bonhomme Richard expedition and sent to Bergen, Norway (then under Danish rule). Bowing to British pressure, Denmark returned the vessels—Betsy, Union, and { 334 } Charming Polly—to Britain, thus depriving the Alliance’s crew of any prize money. In the years since, Franklin had pressed the American case, arguing that Denmark had acted in violation of the law of nations. He had refused a Danish offer of £10,000 in compensation, believing that the prizes were worth at least £50,000. Nothing came of this effort to resolve the issue nor of another in 1787, in the course of which John Paul Jones was sent on a mission to Copenhagen to negotiate directly with the Danish government. The dispute remained unresolved until the mid-nineteenth century (vol. 9:51; Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 6:583–584; Morison, John Paul Jones, p. 354–358).
5. This instruction was also the product of Franklin’s 22 July 1783 letter to Livingston. There he referred to Thomas Barclay’s examination of the European accounts and the unsettled nature of those arising from the 1779 Bonhomme Richard expedition. In fact, except for the frigate Alliance, the French government supplied the vessels and the financing for the undertaking through its agent, Jacques Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont. In 1783 the final unresolved issue was the distribution of prize money, which Chaumont had never paid out, claiming that he was still owed for fitting out the expedition. This led Congress on 1 Nov. to appoint John Paul Jones its agent to solicit, under Franklin’s direction, “for payment and satisfaction to the officers and crews for all prizes taken in Europe under his command.” Jones took three years to resolve the issue to his satisfaction, and in Oct. 1787, Congress, after considering the matter at length, put its final seal on Jones’ settlement (same, p. 182–199, 337–341; Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 6:585; JCC, 25:787; 32:383–384; 33:556–569, 645–646, 659–664).
6. For Livingston’s reference to the Armed Neutrality as a “dead letter,” and for the origins of this instruction in a resolution by Congress on 12 June 1783, see vol. 14:512–514; and for JA’s view of the matter, see his 7 July letter to Livingston, and note 3, above.
7. This question had been raised first in Livingston’s letter to the commissioners of 21 April (vol. 14:437). For the commissioners’ position on the issue, see their letter to Livingston of 18 July, above. No such explanation was obtained.
8. The eighth and ninth instructions proceeded from Jay’s letters of 1 June and 20 July (Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 6:464–465, 576). In the first he asked that William Carmichael, his secretary, be ordered to bring the accounts from Madrid to Paris so that Jay and Carmichael could settle the accounts with Barclay. In the second, he noted the poor state of his health and his desire to try “the waters of Bath for a pain in my breast.”

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0164

Author: Bridgen, Edward
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-11-01

From Edward Bridgen

[salute] Sir

When Mr Oldfield asked me to give him leave to make use of my name when he waited on your Excellency, with a card of invitation to the Revolution Club for Tuesday Next, I did not then know that it was intended not to invite the Whigs at present in Administration, which I think necessary you Sir should be informed of.1
I have the honour to be with great respect / Yr: Excellencys / most obedt: Servant
[signed] Edward Bridgen
I beg my respectful Compliments to your Son
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency John Adams.”
1. Oldfield has not been further identified, but the “Revolution Club” was The Society for Commemorating the Revolution in Great Britain. Also called the Revolution Society, it { 335 } met annually on 4 Nov. to commemorate the birthday of William III and his landing at Brixham in 1688 (Roland Thomas, Richard Price, London, 1924, p. 123). In a 5 Nov. 1783 letter to Peter Jay Munro, JQA indicates that John Jay was also invited but that neither he nor JA attended (NNMus). Nevertheless, on 6 Nov. the London Morning Herald and Daily Advertiser reported that “Tuesday [4 Nov.] there was a numerous Meeting of the Revolution Society, at the Paul’s Head, Cateaton-street, to celebrate in commemoration the anniversary of King William the Third. The number were about 300 persons. Sir Watkin Lewes in the Chair, Lord Surrey on his right, and Mr. Adams, a member of the American Congress, on the left. Many loyal toasts were drank. The King, the constitution, and the Rights of the People. After this, Sir Watkin gave, Unanimity with America and Great Britain. It was received with the loudest plaudits. Sir Watkin said that a Member of the American Congress wished to address a few words to the gentlemen present.
“Mr. Adams rose, and in a very few words expressed the desire which the United Colonies had to coincide in every thing that could advance mutual commerce.
“Mr. Adams paid a compliment to the City of London in particular, and expressed his hopes that there might be an eternal bond of friendship between the two countries.
“Dr. Price, Dr. Jebb, and many more were present, and the evening ended as all other public meetings generally do.”
Essentially the same report appeared in the Gazette d’Amsterdam of 14 Nov. and in the Boston Independent Chronicle of 8 Jan. 1784. But when JA reached the Netherlands in mid-January, the Gazette of 16 Jan. reported his arrival and in its brief notice declared “il n’est vrai, comme l’ont annoncé tous les Papiers Anglois, qu’il ait prononcé une Harangue à Londres dans une espece de Club, soi-disant Patriotique. Son Excellence n’a même jamais paru dans ladite Assemblée.” That is, it is not true, as has been announced in all the English papers, that he gave a harangue in London at a sort of club, self-styled Patriotic. His excellency never appeared at the said meeting.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0165

Author: President of Congress
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-11-01

From the President of Congress


[salute] Sir,

I have the honor of acknowledging the receipt of your several public letters under the dates of June the 23d. to July the 18th. inclusive, by Capt. Barney. Nothing is done in consequence of these letters but what is contained in the instructions inclosed in my official letter by this opportunity to the Commissioners jointly.1
Congress have not come to any further determination on your last letters, relative to your resignation; on account of the peace arrangement not being yet settled.
Perhaps there will be but very few Ministers employed in Europe, and these in the Character of Residents or simply Ministers.
The conduct of Great Britain does not appear yet very conciliating, and her measures on this side the water have rather tended to irritate than otherwise.
Congress will not be in a hurry to send a Minister to the Court of London, till they see how the definitive Treaty will end. We have an { 336 } account this day from Colo. Ogden that it was signed on the 3d. of September, and that Mr. Thaxter is on his way with it, whom we long to see.2
Your letters on the subject of our credit abroad and the strengthening and cementing the union at home, came at a happy moment, and have had a very good effect. Your Countrymen were running wild on this subject, but your observations & opinion have helped to check them, and the Legislature of Massachusetts have passed the 5 Per Cent. Impost recommended by Congress.
Mr. Van Berckel is arrived and yesterday received his first public audience of Congress. His address and our answer I send to the Commissioners jointly. He appears to justify the high opinion we had formed of the wisdom of the States of the United Netherlands. Their choice of a Minister so consonant to the temper and manners of the Citizens of these States, shew their judgment and prudence. We are much pleased with this Gentleman, and as far as I can judge from present appearances, I may venture to predict that he will cement the union of the two Republics—
I shall leave the Chair of Congress on Monday, and return to private life at Elizabeth Town, after almost eight years spent in the service of my Country. I rejoice to have seen the end of all our labours so happily accomplished, and shall ever revere those great men, who have lent an helping hand to the glorious work.
In private or public life I shall be always glad of the honor of a line from you, Sir, if but to announce your health and welfare.
I have the honor to be, with sentiments of high respect and esteem, / Sir, / Your most obedt. / & very humb. Servt.
[signed] Elias Boudinot
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “The hoñble / John Adams, Esq.”
1. For these letters, which had reached Congress on 12 Sept., see JA’s first 23 June letter to Robert R. Livingston, note 1, above. The instructions are at 29 Oct., above, and were enclosed with the president of Congress’ 1 Nov. letter to the commissioners, below. Boudinot’s letters to JA and the commissioners reached JA at London on 5 Dec. (to Benjamin Franklin, 5 Dec., below).
2. In a brief letter to Boudinot written from Elizabeth, N.J., on 30 Oct., Matthias Ogden noted, “On my arrival at New York harbour this day I found that the L’Orient Packet had not yet reached that Port with the definitive Treaty with which she sailed the 20th. of Septr.” Ogden asserted that John Thaxter would be arriving with the treaty, signed on 3 Sept., any day (PCC, No. 78, XVII, f. 361–362).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0166

Author: Wright, Patience Lovell
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-11-01

From Patience Lovell Wright

Mrs Wrights Most Respectfull Complents to Mr Adams and Lements and is Extreem Sorry she was Stept out at the moment Mr Adams did her the honour to Call on her—Cock Spur Street Mrs Wright begs he will Call again and would wait home from any other pleasure Engagement or Bussiness to have a Visit from him as her Esteem for Mr Adams is founded on the high and good principle as to Call for Atention from him— the pleasure of Seeing the Man who has undr God Saved his Coutry with those other Worthyes Calls on Mrs W to Shew all Possable Respect to him
Mrs was gone to Mr Jennings lodging at 10. oclock this mornig
Mrs Wright is now made hapy by Seeing Mr Adams Son—and has forgive her People in not detaining him— the Son of her friend has added new pleasure to the Pleasing prospect of Seeing them togethr at her house in London and also in America with the most sincer Regard this token wrote from the heart of a old friend / and most sincr humbl Servt Patience Wright2
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “John Adams Esqr”; endorsed: “Mrs Wrights Note.” Filmed at [April 1786].
1. This date is derived from JQA’s Diary entry for Saturday, 1 Nov., where he indicates that he visited “Mrs. Wright’s waxwork” (JQA, Diary, 1:198).
2. Patience Lovell Wright, a wax modeler living in London since 1772, had acted as an American spy during the Revolutionary War. In 1783 she had her exhibition rooms and her residence in Cockspur Street, Charing Cross. Wright had written to JA and John Jay on 8 March to solicit their cooperation in her plan to create a series of wax busts of prominent Americans for display at the State House (now Independence Hall) in Philadelphia (Charles Coleman Sellers, Patience Wright: American Artist and Spy in George III’s London, Middletown, Conn., 1976, p. 46–47, 138; Jay, Unpublished Papers, 2:602–603). For more on Wright, see Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 5, above.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0167

Author: President of Congress
Recipient: American Peace Commissioners
Date: 1783-11-01

The President of Congress to the American Peace Commissioners

[salute] Gentlemen,

I am honored by the commands of Congress to transmit you a set of instructions in consequence of your joint and seperate letters of the months of June and July last, by Captain Barney, which I do myself the honor to enclose. These were not finished till the 29th. ult. after having undergone the most mature deliberation and fullest discussion in Congress.1
{ 338 } { 339 }
Yesterday we received from Colo. Ogden the news of the signature of the definitive Treaty on the 3d. of September, and that Mr. Thaxter was on the way with the official news. We long for his arrival tho’ we have no doubt of the fact, which is also announced by the post this day from Boston.
I do most sincerely congratulate you, Gentlemen, on this most important and happy event, which has diffused the sincerest Joy throughout these States; and the terms of which must necessarily hand down the names of its American Negociators to Posterity with the highest possible honor. May the Gratitude of your Country ever be the fair reward of all your labours.
New-York is not yet evacuated, but Sir Guy Carleton has informed our Commander in Chief, that he shall get clear of it in all this month, tho’ I think they will not dare to stay much beyond the 15th. instant.2
Your &c.
[signed] E B
FC (PCC, No. 16, f. 261–262); internal address: “The Honorable / The Ministers Plenipotentiary / of the United States of America / Paris—”
1. See the enclosed instructions at 29 Oct., above.
2. Sir Guy Carleton informed George Washington of his timetable for the evacuation of New York in a message delivered orally by Daniel Parker in early October. The last British troops departed from New York City on 25 Nov. (Smith, Letters of Delegates, 21:71, 157).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0168

Author: Dudley, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-11-02

From John Dudley

[salute] sir

With all due deference—I beg Leave to Lay before you the following facts— Necessity is the motive—that frequently obliges me to actions contrary to my Inclination—hope it will Be admited to pleade in Excuse for the Liberty I take in soliciting your Intrest in my Behalf—without previous Leave— my case is as follows) I am a native of America N Carolina—was an officer in the Service of the united States—and in may 1781 was on the Lines opposite New York—had my Retreat cut of by a party of Refugeas under the command of a Mr Blawvelt2—was wounded and taken prisnor—caried in to new York from thence Sent to England—and By my Arrival the wound I had Recieved togather with hard fare I met with had got so Bad that I was obliged to Suffer the Amputation of my Left Leg— which Rendered me Incapible of Returning to my native country till { 340 } I was Entangled in Debt for common Necessaries of Life— Notwithstanding—I have made frequent applications—to this government— for that Releaf my unhappy situation had an immediate call for—and which I had Reson to Expect—and sorry I am to Say my applications—was of Little Effect— I waited in pirson on the Right Hble. Lord Sydney Late principal Secretary of State &c—and only obtained 10£ Bank Bill—and a passport to go from thence to france— which Sum would not Discharge my Board and Lodgings—my creditors finding that my Situation—immediately arrested me for a Ballence of 40£ and Being in a Strange country could not find Bail But was obliged to go to prison where I still Remain—in a State of missery and Distress—3 I have Been for three months past without one penney to Support me But Live Entirely on the prison Allowence which is only one penney Bread pr. Day—and have Been obliged to pledge Every Stich of cloathing But what is at present on my Back to Discharge my Lodgings on the Masters Side of the prison—or must Be turned on the common Side of the prison amongst the fellows where thier is no place to Ley Down on But the coald Boards I have Rote to Genl. Conway and was Honored with an Interview By his Aidecamp—and do Expect Something Done for me— But the immediate call I have for Some Assistence for present use Drive me to Look up to you for pity and commisseration—and if convenient to Honor me with an Intervew—that I may communicate the particulars of my unhappy Situation— I shall take it one of the greatest favours in Life—as I am—in prison Hungry without food (Naked without Raiment—and must Say I have not Language to Express my Sufferings— pray Dont fail—if you cannot conveniently Do me the Honor to call on me your Self—for gods sake consider my Distress and Send Some gentleman that will Be So friendly as to Attend to my case—as Speedy as possible—as term Begins this week and if I cannot find Some assistence Between this and tuesday I shall Be plunged further into Missery if possible it can Be So— the Barer of this will wait at the Doar for A verbal answer—and will Return again to me— I most Humbly pray you will Excuse my plain Language—as I can Assure you Distress Render me allmost incencible— your Humanity sir in considering my Distressed Situation—will Lay an Everlasting Obligation on me—and Shall Be most Gratfully Acknowledged—when Ever I can Effect that much wished for object of Returning to my Native country—By— / sir / Your Most Devoted / Much Distressed / Very Hble Servt. &c
[signed] John Dudley
{ 341 }
1. This is the first of four letters from Dudley recounting his harrowing experiences as a prisoner. The others are dated 14 Nov. (Adams Papers), and 19 Nov. and 30 Dec., both below. Dudley has not been identified beyond the information supplied in his letters and military records, for which see his 30 Dec. letter, and note 3, below. There are no extant replies by JA to Dudley’s appeals for assistance. This may be, as Dudley indicates in his 19 Nov. letter, because JA doubted whether he had served in the Continental Army. However, Dudley’s letter of 30 Dec. indicates that he likely met with JA, who advised him on the sorts of proofs necessary to authenticate his case. For Dudley’s most detailed account of his captivity, see the enclosure to his letter of 30 Dec., below.
For other appeals to JA by former prisoners, see those from Robert Ford and A. Moore of 10 and 11 Nov., respectively, both Adams Papers. Ford was captured in 1777 on board the Continental brigantine Lexington. In 1779 he apparently was pardoned for service in the Royal Navy, but in 1783 he sought JA’s assistance in being freed from the service (Marion and Jack Kaminkow, comps., Mariners of the American Revolution, Baltimore, 1967, p. 67). Moore, allegedly from Boston, had been captured by the British in command of a French privateer and imprisoned on suspicion of being English. He sought JA’s assistance in obtaining compensation for losses during his confinement and a berth in a new vessel.
2. Probably Tunis Blauvelt or Blanvelt, an active loyalist irregular (Sabine, Loyalists), but see also the account enclosed with Dudley’s letter of 30 Dec., below.
3. That is, he was sent to Poultry Compter, a prison maintained by the sheriff of London (London Past and Present, 3:117–118). Dudley, however, did not remain there much longer, for which see his letter of 19 Nov., note 1, below.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0169

Author: Adams, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-11-04

From Samuel Adams

[salute] My dear Sir

Colo John Trumbull, the Son of the worthy Governor of Connecticutt is the Bearer of this Letter.1 I give the Governor this Epithet, because I think his faithful Services to our Country intitle him to it. Yet even he has undergone the Suspicions of some, unsupported by any solid Reasons that I have heard of.2 We live in an Age of Jealousy, and it is well enough. I was led to beleive in early Life, that Jealousy is a political Virtue. It has long been an Aporism with me, that it is one of the greatest Securities of publick Liberty. Let the People keep a watchful Eye over the Conduct of their Rulers; for we are told that Great Men are not at all times wise. It would be indeed a Wonder if in any Age or Country they were always honest. There are however some Men among us, who under the Guise of watchful Patriots, are finding Fault with every publick Measure, with a Design to destroy that just Confidence in Government, which is necessary for the Support of those Liberties which we have so dearly purchas’d. Many of your Countrymen besides myself, feel very grateful to you and those of our Negociators who joynd you, in preventing the Tory Refugees from being obtruded upon us— These { 342 } would certainly have increasd the Number of such Kind of Patriots as I have mentiond; and besides, their Return would have been attended with other mischeivous Effects. Mutual Hatred and Revenge would have occasiond perpetual Quarrels between them & the People & perhaps frequent Bloodshed. Some of them, by Art and Address might gradually recover a Character & in time an Influence, and so become the fittest Instruments in forming Factions either for one foreign Nation or another. We may be in Danger of such Factions, and should prudently expect them. One might venture to predict that they will sooner or later happen. We should therefore guard against the evil Effects of them. I deprecate the most favord Nation predominating in the Councils of America, for I do not beleive there is a Nation on Earth that wishes we should be more free or more powerful than is consistent with their Ideas of their own Interest. Such a disinterested Spirit is not to be found in National Bodies; The World would be more happy if it prevaild more in individual Persons. I will say it for my Countrymen, they are, or seem to be, very grateful. All are ready freely to acknowledge our Obligations to France for the Part she took in our late Contest. There are a few who consider the Advantage derivd to her, by a total Seperation of Britain & the Colonies, which so sagacious a Court doubtless foresaw & probably never lost Sight of. This Advantage was so glaring in the first Stages of our Controversy, that those who then ran the Risque of exciting even an Appeal to Heaven rather than a Submission to British Tyranny, were well perswaded that the Prospect of such an Seperation would induce France to interpose, and do more than she has done if necessary.— America with the Assistance of her faithful Ally has secured and establishd her Liberty & Independence. God be praisd! And some would think it too bold to assert, that France has thereby saved the Being of her great Importance.— But if it be true why may we not assert it? A punctual Fulfillment of Engagements solemnly enterd into by Treaty is the Justice, the Honor & Policy of Nations. If we, who have contracted Debts, were influenced only by Motives of sound Policy, we should pay them assoon as possible & provide sure & adequate Funds for the Payment of Interest in the mean time— When we have done this we shall have the Sense of Independence impressd on our Minds, no longer feeling that State of Inferiority which a wise King tells us the Borrower stands in to the Lender3
Your Negociation with Holland, as “my old Friend” observd, is all your own—4 The faithful Historian will do Justice to your Merits { 343 } Perhaps not till you are dead. I would have you reconcile yourself to this Thought. While you live you will probably be the Object of Envy. The leading Characters in this great Revolution will not be fairly marked in the present Age. It will be well if the leading Principles are rememberd long. You, I am sure, have not the Vanity, which Cicero betrayed, when he even urged his Friend Licinius to publish the History of the Detection of Cataline in his Life Time that he might enjoy it. I am far from thinking that Part of History redounds so much to the Honor of the Roman Consul, as the Treaty of Holland does to its American Negociator
I intended to have committed the Care of the foregoing Letter to Mr Trumbull, but when he called on me I was confind to my Chamber by severe bodily Indisposition unable to attend even to the lightest Business. I am still kept at home, but hope soon to be abroad. Mr Jonn Jackson will deliver this to you if he meets you in London, other wise he will convey it by some safe hand.5 When I shall be certain of your being appointed for London, I will write to you as often as I can.—6 May Heaven bless you My Friend as I am / affectionately yours
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “recd & ansd / 1. May 1784. / S Adams.”
1. Samuel Adams’ intention that Col. John Trumbull, the artist, would carry this letter was thwarted as the final paragraph dated 4 Dec. indicates. But Trumbull did carry other letters to JA, including AA’s of 11 Nov. (AFC, 5:266–269), and enclosed them with a 27 Jan. 1784 letter from London, not found, to which JA replied on 9 Feb. (LbC, APM Reel 107). Trumbull’s father, Connecticut governor Jonathan Trumbull, may also have intended his son to carry a letter to JA. A copy of a letter from the elder Trumbull to JA dated 1 Oct. is in the Trumbull Family Papers at Ct. In his letter, the governor congratulates JA on the peace, notes that his son is going to England, and recommends him to JA’s attention. There is, however, no recipient’s copy of the letter in the Adams Papers nor any indication that JA replied to it, and given the apparent delay in John Trumbull’s departure for Europe, it seems unlikely that JA received the letter of 1 Oct. or, indeed, that it was ever sent.
2. Late in the Revolution, Gov. Jonathan Trumbull’s reputation suffered from rumors that he was trading with the British. Failing to win a majority of the popular vote and returned to office only by the ensuing vote in the General Assembly in the elections of 1780 and 1781, Trumbull requested that the legislature launch a formal investigation into his conduct, which ultimately exonerated him of any wrongdoing. The governor faced renewed opposition in May 1783, this time due to controversial political positions— particularly his commitment to strengthening the central government. Announcing in October that he would not run for reelection, Trumbull retired from public life in May 1784 (DAB).
3. Proverbs, 22:7. The full passage, in the words of King Solomon, reads “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”
4. Samuel Adams’ reference to “my old Friend” may be to JA. But it might also be to someone else who had commented on JA and the Dutch treaty or possibly shown Adams a letter from JA dealing with his negotiation of the treaty. Certainly Adams’ { 344 } observation accurately reflects JA’s opinion of the credit due to him for the treaty, but it does not appear to respond to any specific assertion in a letter from JA. See, however, JA’s remarks on the Dutch treaty’s significance in his letters to Adams of 19 Aug. 1782 and to James Warren of 19 Aug. and 6 Sept. of the same year, vol. 13:252–253, 255–256, 439–440.
5. Jonathan Jackson wrote to JA from London on 27 April 1784, explaining that he had entrusted the delivery of Samuel Adams’ letter “to the care of Doctr Parker who I am told will be a safe conveyance, & who has promised to deliver ’em himself” (Adams Papers). JA received the letter the morning of 1 May, penning a reply later that day in which he responded to Adams’ comments about refugees, the United States’ relationship with France, and the way the Revolution would be characterized by historians (NN:Bancroft Coll.).
6. Samuel Adams would have a considerable wait before JA received any such appointment. Not until 7 May 1784 did Congress commission JA, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson to negotiate treaties with Britain and other nations, and it was only in Feb. 1785 that JA was appointed to the Court of St. James ( JCC, 26:362; 28:98).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0170

Author: Morris, Robert
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-11-05

From Robert Morris

[salute] Sir

I am honored with your Excellency’s favor, of the twenty eighth of July, from Amsterdam; for which I pray you to accept my Acknowlegements. I am perfectly in Sentiment with you, that it is best to avoid Governmental Interference in the Affair of our Loan. If there were no other Reason, I should not like the Demand of grateful Acknowlegement which would be erected on that Foundation. We hear enough already of our National Obligations, and I most heartily wish, for my own Part, that we could at once acquit them all, even to the uttermost farthing; for I seriously beleive that both Nations and Individuals, generally, prove better friends when no Obligations can be charged, nor Acknowlegements and Retributions claimed on either Side.—
I am also very strongly in Opinion with you that Remittances from this Country would greatly uphold our Credit in Europe, for in Mercantile Life nothing vivify’s Credit like Punctuality and Plentiousness of Remittance. The Plan you propose to obtain them, might also be attended with some good Consequences, but there are Impediments in the Way of it’s Success, which it would be tedious to Detail, and which indeed you could not be so perfectly Master of without being on the Spot. I shall not therefore go into that Matter at present, and the more especially as we have now good Hopes that the Plan of Congress will be adopted by the States— Last Evening, I received advice that Massachusetts had acceded; and I have a double Pleasure in announcing this to you, as they certainly would not have come in but for the Sentiments contained in your Letters.1 Let me then, my dear Sir, most heartily congratulate { 345 } you on those virtuous Emotions which must swell your Bosom at the Reflection that you have been the able, the useful, and (what is above all other Things) the honest Servant of a Republic indebted to you in a great Degree for her first Efforts at independent Existence— That you may long live to enjoy these pleasing Reflections which flow from the Memory of an Active and beneficial Exercise of Time and Talents, is the sincere Wish of / Your most Obedient / and / Humble Servant
[signed] Robt Morris
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency John Adams Esqr: / Minister Plenipo: of the / United States—”; endorsed: “M. Morris / 5. Nov. 1783.”
1. For the extracts from JA’s letters forwarded by Morris on 20 Sept. to John Hancock, see JA’s letters to Morris of 10 and 11 July, notes 3 and 2, respectively, and Morris’ to JA of 20 Sept., and note 1, all above. Hancock, in conveying Morris’ letter and the accompanying passages from JA’s correspondence to the Mass. General Court, put additional pressure on the legislature by formally endorsing Congress’ proposed funding plan. The General Court had debated the controversial impost bill over the summer but taken no action; now it responded by ratifying the plan, although by a narrow margin. The engrossed bill was read before the Mass. house of representatives on 20 Oct. (Morris, Papers, 8:533–535; Tristram Dalton to JA, 16 July, and note 5, above; Mass. House, Journals, Records of the States, Microfilm, Mass., A.1b, Reel 11, Unit 1, p. 266–267; AFC, 5:288–289). See also Thomas Cushing’s letter of 26 Nov., and note 2, below.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0171

Author: Tufts, Cotton
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-11-05

From Cotton Tufts

[salute] Dear Sir.

The Pleliminary Articles of Peace, Cessation of Hostilities &C were not announced here by Authority untill sometime in April last, from whence I conclude that Congress did not recieve Dispatches from their Ministers before the latter End of March or beginning of April. Their Confirmation of these Doings of their Ministers was not (I am informed) forwarded to France untill the middle of April and we hear that they were not received before the latter End of July or beginning of August, which must have retarded the signing of the definitive Treaty, A Matter which we have been anxiously concerned about and the Delay of which has occasioned many Speculations— But late Accounts from England give us Reason to conclude that it was signed the 3d Septr. last— If this Business is compleated I hope We shall e’er long have the Pleasure of seeing You in America—
Since the Cessation of Hostilities, Boston Harbour has been (too well) filled with foreign Vessells— Foreigners are fond of our Money and we are disposed to indulge them: We shall soon gratify them { 346 } with our current Cash, and when we have got rid of that volatile and seducing Guest, we shall grow serious— I feel most intolerably chagrined to hear my Countrymen complain of Burdens Debts Taxes &C when the unnecessary Articles & Toys brought from abroad and sold here would more than pay their Taxes And it may be asserted and I believe with Truth, that since the Cessation of Hostilities, Vessells from England France Spain Holland Denmark & Sweden have carried from this State more solid Money than would pay a fifth Part of its Proportion of the Continental Debt and still more has been carried from Philadelphia—
Congress calls upon the States for Cash, the States upon the People, and the People complain of Burdens and Scarcity of Money— This Game played by the People much longer, will play away the Honor, Dignity and Faith of the United States— But I trust it will not— There is a Crisis to all human Affairs— There must be Time for a People thrown into a Chaotic State by War, into a State of Confusion and seduced to a State of Profusion by a pernicious Paper Currency, to emerge and rise into order regain their former Habits and adopt just, solid and aeconomical Principles— In all Nations Complaint of Taxes is a common Topic.1 It is not surprizing it should be so here, where a People have sustained an expensive War and for which they were almost wholly unprovided—and have been unused to Public Debts of any great Magnitude— it will take some Time to convince them of their Ability to discharge them, but this I trust will after a while be effected. And if prudent Measures are taken, the public Debts will be discharged in a much shorter Time, than has been by some of our Enemies predicted or even imagined by many of our Friends. Congress must be cloathed with a Power, sufficient to bring the Wealth & Strength of the United States to a Point— the Necessity of this seems to be dayly more and more attended to— the more we are Concerned in National Matters, the more we shall see the necessity of some controuling Power over the whole, that shall be competent to the Preservation of the Faith Honor and Interest of the Nation: without this it appears to me to be idle to think of subsisting as a Nation of any great Importance— It has been asserted and I believe with great Truth, That the unappropriated Lands belonging to the Public will if sold at a moderate Price produce a Sum exceeding the continental Debt, but suppose We had no Lands for that Purpose the common Taxes with a judicious Impost and Excise would in Ten or Fifteen Years clear us of Debt—
{ 347 }
Congress has once & again recommended Imposts, the last Recommendation was laid before the Genl Court in May Sessions, it would have been readily complied with, had not the Appropriation of the Revenue included that part of the national Debt, which came under the Head of Commutation to the Officers of the Army in Lieu of half Pay for Life— This was a grievous Matter— Half Pay for Life or even Commutation said the opposers, is directly opposed to the Principles & Spirit of a free Republic and the Granting of it was a Stretch of Power unconstitutional &C— Be this as it will, Times & Circumstances have been such and are such at present as to convince the more judicious Part of the Community of the Necessity of making full and ample Provision according to the Spirit & Tenor of the Resolves of Congress, This Sessions past over without accomplishing the Point. In September Sessions which ended the 28th ulto. it was taken up again and a Bill passed for laying an Impost as recommended by Congress, the money raised by it to be collected by Collectors appointed by the Legislature they to be accountable to Congress and the Mony to be paid into the Treasury of the United States for discharging the Interest & Principal of the National Debt— I hope the other States will speedily fall into this Measure and I apprehend Necessity will oblige them to it—
You have no doubt heard of an high Insult offered in July last to Congress by 3 or 400 of the Pensylvania Line, they were chiefly new Recruits and headed by Serjeants an they surrounded the House in which Congress sat and under the same Roof, the ExPresident and Council of Pensylvania; they placed Guards at every Door, & demanded of Congress (with Threats) past Pay, Rations &C The Executive of Pensylvania had timely Notice of their Design, But they deliberated on their Power and the Expediency of calling out the Militia untill they were surrounded—& for some Hours were confined with Congress, after a while the Insurgents were by some People without Doors perswaded to withdraw their Guards & retire— Congress upon this removed to Trenton and it is hoped by all Friends to the Sovereignty of the United States that they never will set again at Philadelphia— This extraordinary Affair has not a little awakened the Attention of the People and I hope in the Issue will be productive of much Good— Gen. Washington upon the first Notice detached a Corps to quell secure the Insurgents but before they had arrived, the Pensylvanian Soldiers had become sensible of their Folly & sued for Pardon, the Ring Leaders were taken, some of them condemned—& have since been pardoned by Congress— at { 348 } Philadelphia they wish to cast a Veil over this disgraceful Scene, but it will leave an indelible Stain on their Government— If their Executive is incompetent to the Protection of the sovereign representative Body of the United States from Insult, It is high Time, that they have their Residence in some State where the Authority of the Government is adequate to that Purpose— This is a Story that will not sound well abroad—but We shall profit by it—
Our last Accounts are that Congress have resolved, to hold their Seat hereafter alternately in the Jerseys & Maryland— Great offers of Territory, Jurisdiction &C have been made by a Number of States to Congress to procure its Residence in their respective States—
I wrote to You in June last, requesting Your Sentiments upon the 5th & 6th. preliminary Articles of Peace, how far they are absolutely binding upon the States, whether the whole of the 5th. is merely recommendatory by Congress to the several Legislatures to be by them decided upon, In what Light the concluding part of the 5th. is to be considered Viz “and it is agreed that all Persons who have any Interest in confiscated Lands either by Debts, Marriage Settlements or otherwise, shall meet with no lawful Impediment in the Prosecution of their just Rights.” Is the 6th. Article positive and binding? I pray You by the first Conveyance to send me Your Comment upon these Matters and give me Your Opinion How far the Articles respecting Refugees Tories &C are binding2
This matter will probably come before the Genl. Court in the Winter Sessions, hitherto the Consideration of it has not been recommended by Congress, having been deferred till the Signing of the definitive Treaty— Congress will shortly sit at Annapolis in Maryland and will return to the Jerseys as soon as a proper Plan and Accommodations are provided— Our present Delegates are Messrs. Gerry, Partridge, Osgood, Sullivan & Danielson—
Before this You will (I trust) have received Intelligence of the Death of our pious worthy and amiable Friend & Relation Revd. Mr Smith on the 17th. of Septr. last—of which I gave You Notice in a Letter sent in October by a Vessell bound to France—3 This will probably come by Monsr. Feron who has for several Years resided in Boston as chief Surgeon & Physician to the French Kings Troops & Hospital, The Physicians of that Town speak of him with much Respect, as a Man of great Modesty & Ingenuity, amiable in his Manners and learned in his Profession— As he purposes for Paris, Our Medical Society will transmit by him sundry Letters One for his Excellency J. A. who richly deserves our Warmest Thanks for his kind { 349 } & friendly endeavours to promote the Interest of the Society—4 The Society at their last Meeting passed a Vote of Thanks which you will receive You have also my particular Thanks— Our Connections are well, they sincerely wish Yr Return to America, if consistent with the great Objects of Your mission, none does so more sincerely than / Yr Affectionate Friend & Very H Svt
[signed] C. T
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency John Adams Esq”; endorsed: “Dr Tufts Nov. 5. / 1784.”
1. AA observed in her 11 Nov. letter to JA that “tho the War is ceased, taxes have not. Since I took my pen, and within this hour, I have been visited by the collector with 3 tax Bills; the amount of which is 29 pounds 6 and 8 pence, the continental tax state tax and town tax, beside which, I have just paid a parish tax” (AFC, 5:269).
2. In his letter of 26 June, above, Tufts posed the same questions regarding the treaty as he does here. In his 10 Sept. reply JA dodged Tufts’ inquiries, noting that the articles mentioned were included out of necessity and refusing to elaborate on their meaning (AFC, 5:240–242). If JA answered this letter, the reply has not been found.
3. For the death of Rev. William Smith, see James Lovell’s 21 Sept. letter, and note 3, above. Tufts’ October letter has not been found.
4. Jean Baptiste Feron (d. 1833), a French surgeon and physician, operated a hospital in Boston for French sailors from 1781 to 1784. The Massachusetts Medical Society (of which Tufts was a founder) made Feron one of its first honorary members (AFC, 4:386, 388; J. Worth Estes, Naval Surgeon: Life and Death at Sea in the Age of Sail, Canton, Mass., 1998, p. 23). It is uncertain when JA received either Tufts’ letter or that from Edward Augustus Holyoke of 6 Nov., but see note 1 to Holyoke’s letter, below.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0172

Author: Holyoke, Edward Augustus
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-11-06

From Edward Augustus Holyoke

[salute] Sir

Your Excellencys Favours done to the Massachusetts Medical Society, call for their most grateful Acknowledgments; and it is at their Desire I now enclose to Your Excellency, the Copy of a Vote from their Records, expressive of the Gratitude they feel, & the Obligations they are Under to Your Excellency, for Your kind Attention to their Interests, & for the Honour done them, by introducing them to an Acquaintance with so respectable a Body as the Société royale de Médicine at Paris.1
to which permit Me Sir to add my own personal Thanks,—and as while We continue to prosecute the Ends of our Institution, We are promoting the Cause of Science & Humanity, so We shall still hope for the Continuance of Your Excellencys. good Offices.— I have the Honour to be with great Gratitude & Respect / Your Excellencys. most Obedient / & very humble Servant
[signed] E. A. Holyoke
RC and enclosure (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency Jno Adams Esqr. / Minister Plenipotentiary for / the United States / of America.”
{ 350 }
1. For JA’s successful efforts, at the behest of Cotton Tufts in a letter of 26 Sept. 1782 (AFC, 4:386), to establish a correspondence between the newly established Massachusetts Medical Society and the Société royale de médecine at Paris, see vol. 14 index and JA’s 10 June 1783 letter to Holyoke, above. On 15 Oct., the Massachusetts Medical Society voted unanimously to thank JA for “his early Attention to the Interests and Honor of the . . . Society, and for his assiduous Endeavours, to introduce the Institution to the Notice of the Royal Society of Medicine at Paris” (Adams Papers). It is uncertain when JA received this letter and its enclosure (see Tufts’ 5 Nov. letter, and note 4, above), for he did not reply to Holyoke until 3 April 1786 (MaSaPEM:Holyoke Family Coll.). For JA’s explanation for his failure to acknowledge Holyoke’s letter and the vote of the society, in response to an inquiry from Tufts, see his 11 March 1786 letter to Tufts, AFC, 7:87–88.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0173

Author: Ward, Joseph
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-11-06

From Joseph Ward

[salute] Sir

Our long conflict having terminated in Independence Peace, and Glory, I have returned to resume my Citizenship in Boston. Having expended my interest in the public Cause, and it being impossible to receive payment, I was led to contemplate the means of doing business without a capital in money, and have adopted a plan which I beg leave to enclose.1
Your high and important Station, and the vast national concerns committed to your care, seem to forbid my address, but, Sir, being a Son of Independence, habituated to enterprize, and long animated by your precepts and example, you will pardon the intrusion.— I ask no favours, being assured that if your precious moments are not all more nobly employed, your advice and assistance will spontaneously flow in whatever line may best answer my wishes. And in the extensive views and operations of your mind I conceive you will discover some connection between the public interest (particularly of this State) and the prosperity of my plan.— Should this be seen, your benevolence and patriotism will have another object for gratification.—
I have particularly in view the settlement of the large tracts of unlocated lands in the north Eastern parts of this State; which if wisely improved by Government, will, I conceive, pay great part of our public debt. I have laid before some of the principal members of the General Court a plan, by the execution of which, this triple advantage may be derived; by the gradual sale of the lands the debt will continually decrease, the number of people increase, and the remaining lands rise in value in such proportion that the remainder will continue to be worth more (until the greater part are sold) than the whole were before the sale of any.— This policy has often been { 351 } pursued by individuals with great success, who have purchased Townships and sold, or given away, one half to raise the value of the remainder;—and I conceive it will equally apply to the State, or Nation.—
The American funds, and new lands, open a great field for speculation, and if you should incline to vest some of your interest in them I should be happy to negotiate the same.— My expectations are sanguine with regard to the new lands in America, and I conceive that by a wise disposal of them great part of our national debt may be paid. But of this, you can best determine, under whose eye Europe & America appear at one view. Perhaps my sanguine imagination carries me in to fairy fields. I have always believed that America will in the progress of time transcend all the Empires of the world. But we want minds elevated as the station Providence hath assigned us. I will not name our errors, you have seen and felt their effects— However, political wisdom is progressive, and I trust we may grow wiser by experience. You will hear perhaps from some doubting timid folks, alarming accounts of our dissensions about commutation, imposts, and other matters, but Sir, I am a stranger to dispair, and not much troubled with fear, although these little disputes are a temporary evil, I view them as a fermentation that will subside and perhaps eventually purify and exalt popular ideas, and tend to perpetuate liberty and national happiness.
Your Embassy, Sir, was a circumstance I ever viewed with pleasure, conceiving it was pregnant with blessings to America, and successive events have overflowed the bounds of sanguine expectation— Providence hath set its seal to the wisdom of your measures and crowned your efforts.— These smiles of Heaven, and the love and gratitude of your Country, will contribute to support the energy of your mind in pursuit of public happiness— And may God forever encircle you with his favour, and shine upon you the unclouded beams of felicity— And in due time give us the pleasure of hailing you on the American shore.—
With every sentiment of affection and esteem, I have the pleasure to be, my Dear Sir, your grateful Friend and most / Obedient Humble Servant
[signed] Joseph Ward
P.S. Sir, we are now told that you are in London, where wisdom and virtue, bear a small proportion to vice and folly—but as Britons are fond of rarities, I hope the presence of an American Patriot may stun their vices and rekindle the divine sparks of liberty and virtue { 352 } in some of their bosoms. I always conceived that if it should be necessary to have an American Ambassador in London, the tried wisdom and inflexible patriotism of my honored Friend, would fix the national eye on him for the important Embassy.
I exceedingly dislike that spirit of partiality for every thing that is British, which appears in too many— I still view them as an accursed nation, whose murdering hands were restrained by merciful Heaven, against their will— I have not forgotten the fields of blood— the smoking towns—and the murdered innocents—the works of British hands.— Nor will I ever cease to detest their impious character. Had the scene been reversed, and Independence lost in the black gulph of tyranny—Good Heavens! what a scene of wretchedness— not an Hero or Patriot left alive—and their miserable wives and children become the scorn of murderers, to bear every insult and to weep out their gloomy days in hopeless calamity— The tyrants and their tools may now put on a forced smile, but I look to their cankered hearts—& conceive it is the dictate of wisdom & virtue to hold them in everlasting detestation. If Cesar, Caligula, & Charles, are justly held up for a warning to mankind as monuments of eternal infamy, why should the tyrants in our day fare better?
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency / John Adams Esqr.”; endorsed: “Ward” and in another hand “Novr 6th 1783.”
1. Joseph Ward was a cousin of and former aide-de-camp to Gen. Artemas Ward and served as commissary general of prisoners from April 1780 to the end of the war (vol. 3:238; Heitman, Register Continental Army, p. 568). He was well known to JA, for between 23 Oct. 1775 and 9 Oct. 1777 the two men exchanged at least 35 letters, for which see vols. 3–5 and 8. There is no evidence that JA replied to this letter, and Ward did not write again until 12 March 1789. From that date through 11 Jan. 1811, Ward and JA exchanged 25 letters.
Ward’s enclosed plan has not been found. But in Oct. 1783, he advertised the opening of a Boston land office where he would broker the purchase and sale of houses, farms, and land as well as public securities. He claimed that “the Utility of such an Office must be conspicuous to every one . . . the vast Tracts of uncultivated Land in the Dominions of the United States, may soon invite Millions of Foreigners, as well as Natives, to settle them—which will cause innumerable Transfers of landed Property in the old Towns, and in the new Country.” Ward amassed considerable wealth through land and bond speculation, building a mansion in Newton, Mass., in 1792, but he later suffered heavy financial losses (Boston Evening Post, 25 Oct. 1783; William Carver Bates, “Col. Joseph Ward, 1737–1812: Teacher, Soldier, Patriot,” Bostonian Society, Publications, 1st ser., 4:72 [1907]).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0174

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1783-11-09

To the President of Congress

[salute] Sir

About the fourteenth of September I was seized at Paris with a Fever, which proved to be a dangerous one, and brought me, very { 353 } low, so that I was unable to attend to any business for some time.— on the twentieth of October, in Pursuance of the Advice of my Friends, I sett out from Auteuil a Village in the Neighbourhood of Passy for London, which City I reach’d by slow Journeys, the twenty sixth. I found my strength increase as I advanced, and my Health is so much improved that I am perswaded the last sickness has been of Service to me, having never enjoyed since my great sickness at Amsterdam, so good Health as at Present. Mr: Jay had sett off for London, about ten days before me; and since my arrival, we have been much together, and have found every thing agreeable, notwithstanding the innumerable, and incessant Lyes, and Nonsense of the Newspapers.1
As I came here in a private Capacity altogether, I have not visited any one of the Ministers, nor any one of the foreign Ambassadors, and I am inclined to think upon the whole that I shall not, unless we should receive the Commission to treat of Commerce, which Congress resolved on, the first of last May, while I stay here.
The Whig Part of the Present Administration are much embarassed with the Tory Part and their Refugees: so that the spirit of the present administration, I must in duty say is not so friendly to the United States as it ought to be, for Want of Powers however, We can reduce nothing to a Certainty. we expect every day to receive our Commission and Instructions.
Mr: Hartley thinks himself impowered to finish the Business with us, by his former Commission. The Ministry are of the same Opinion; And it is no doubt true. So that as soon as our Commission and Instructions arrive, we shall enter upon the Conferences.— But whether we shall go to Paris, or Dr: Franklin will come here, at present I know not. The Negotiation, I am perswaded, would succeed better here than at Paris.
I have the honour to be with great Respect, Sir, your / most obedient, and most humble Servant.
[signed] John Adams.2
RC in JQA’s hand (PCC, No. 84, V, f. 215–217); internal address: “The President of Congress.”; endorsed: “Letter Novr 9. 1783. / John Adams / Read. Jany 21. 1784.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 107.
1. For JA’s journey to London and newspaper reports of his arrival and activities to date, see his 16 Oct. letter to Antoine Marie Cerisier, note 1, and Edward Bridgen’s letter of 1 Nov., note 1, both above.
2. In JA’s hand.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0175

Author: Copley, John Singleton
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-11-11

From John Singleton Copley

Mr: Copley presents his compliments to Mr: Adams, has seen Lord Mansfield and been informed that it is necessary to be early at the House, Mr Copley will go with Mr Adams and his friends at 12 o’Clock precisely, and shall be glad to know where they are to meet and thinks there will be no dificulty in gaining Admittance2
RC (PHi:Dreer Coll.); addressed: “John Adams Esquire”; endorsed: “Mr Copely” and in another hand “1783.”
1. This date is derived from accounts by JA and JQA of their attending the House of Lords at the opening of Parliament on Tuesday, 11 Nov. (JA, D&A, 3:150–151; JQA, Diary, 1:202–203). JA indicated that “Mr. Copely . . . procured me, and that from the great Lord Mansfield [William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield], a place in the house of lords, to hear the king’s speech at the opening of parliament, and to witness the introduction of the Prince of Wales, then arrived at the age of twenty one.”
The most detailed description of the event is JQA’s in his 14 Nov. letter to Peter Jay Munro (NNMus). There he wrote that the House was “this year uncommonly Crowded, because the Prince of Wales was sworn in and took his seat as Duke of Cornwall— I had a fine opportunity of seeing the King, the Prince of Wales, and all the peers, spiritual and temporal; it was a very magnificent sight indeed the Robes of the Lords were scarlet and white the Kings and the Prince of Wales’s were a Purple Velvet, with a white kind of a Cape, which came down, to about the middle of their Backs; and a Golden Chain round their necks, the King had his Crown on when he delivered his most gracious speech from the throne; he speaks (or rather reads, for he read his speech) most admirably well I believe there was not a person in the House, lost one word of what he said the speech is of no great importance to you and so I shall not say anything about it. The Prince of Wales took his oaths in a very gay manner. he look’d up,—and down,—and then on one side,—and then on the other,—and was smiling all the time; he is a very fine figure of a Man, I never saw so handsome a Prince and the King is also a very good looking Man,—but their Robes shew them to great Advantage—”
2. Artist John Singleton Copley not only socialized with JA during his 1783 sojourn in London but painted his portrait. For more on the Copley portrait of JA, see Descriptive List of Illustrations, Nos. 6 and 7, above.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0176

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Newport, Rhode Island, Second Congregational Church
Date: 1783-11-12

To the Second Congregational Church of Newport, Rhode Island

[salute] Gentlemen

I duely received2 the Letter you did me the Honour to write me on the 26th. of May with two addresses inclosed one to the Ministers and Churches of the reformed in Holland, the other to those in France,3 and it should have been answered sooner had not a long Sickness prevented.— I am duely Sensible of the Honour, you do me, Gentlemen by confiding this benevolent Office to my Care, and it would give me great Pleasure to be able to give you { 355 } { 356 } { 357 } encouragement to hope for Success:4 but Solicitations of this Kind are consider’d so differently in America, and in Europe, that an appointment which would be considered as very honourable in the former is regarded in the latter in a different Light. this difference of Sentiment is so real and so serious, that in the opinion of others, as well as in my own, it is inconsistent with the publick Character I have at present the honour to hold under the United States for me to accept of this.— It is agreed on all hands that my Name appearing in this Business would do a great Injury to the Loan of which I have the Care in Holland; so that I must beg the favour of you, Gentlemen, to make my Apology to the Second Congregational Church in Newport for declining a Trust, which my Regard to their Constitution as well as their Welfare, and my personal Respect for you would have induced me to accept with Pleasure had it been compatible with my Duty.
On occasion of a great Fire in Charlestown formerly and of an application of Dartmouth Colledge lately I have seen that there is such a degree of Ridicule attends such solicitations of Benevolence in Europe, that I cannot advise you to expect any Relief in this way: if you were to send an agent on Purpose, in my opinion he would not obtain enough to pay his Expences.
With great Esteem and Respect I have the Honour to be / Gentlemen, your most obedient, and most humble Servant.
[signed] John Adams.5
RC in JQA’s hand (MHi:Channing Family Coll.); internal address: “The Honourable William Ellery, Henry Marchant / Robert Stevens, and William Channing Esqrs: / a Committee of the Second Congregational / Church in Newport.—”; endorsed: “J. Adams.—” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 107.
1. In the Letterbook, where the original text and the alterations are in JA’s hand, JA originally wrote “The Hague August [2?] 1783” and then interlined “London November 12” over the original place and date. This indicates (see note 2) that JA received the church’s 26 May letter (vol. 14:498–501) during his visit to the Netherlands in July and August. It is likely the letter Matthew Ridley “received by yesterday’s Post from England” and forwarded to JA with his letter of 28 July, above. Why JA then drafted a reply in his Letterbook, but apparently did not have JQA copy it and send it off, is unknown.
2. In the Letterbook, to this point this sentence originally read “I received, to Day, from London.”
3. In the Letterbook at this point the comma appears to have been originally a period, and the remainder of the sentence was crowded into the space between the original end of the sentence and the following paragraph beginning “I am duely Sensible.”
4. In the Letterbook “But Solicitations” began a new paragraph, and this sentence continued “but having lately had occasion to try an Experiment.”
5. In JA’s hand.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0177

Author: Chauncy, Charles
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-11-12

From Charles Chauncy

[salute] Honorable Sir,

I heartily congratulate you upon the peace, and your instrumentality in order to its being so advantagious an one to these states. I trust, they will not be forgetful to honor and reward you for your eminent services, which have gained you the highest reputation both here and abroad.
The more special occasion of my now writing to you is, to bespeak your endeavours, so far as you may think proper, to serve the honorable John Temple, who is going to England. His view in going is, partly to render some assistance in forming a commercial treaty, (if not yet done) for wch he is well qualified, as he was for many years at the head of the custom office, and therefore knows more of our commercial affairs than perhaps any one else:1 But what he principally aims at is, to get ample and honorable reparation for the injustice done him heretofore by the then British Ministry.— It would be good policy to grant him this reparation, and might have a salutary effect in this Country, as his friends and connections here are neither few in number, nor inconsiderable in rank and consequence. So far as it may lay with you to assist him in his proposed designs, your exertions would be gratefully accepted by his connections, and by him, who, wth all due respect, is, wth thousands of individuals here, / your obliged humble Servt.
[signed] Charles Chauncy2
P. S. Mr Temple has been infamously persecuted by a party here, meerly fm Envy, or something worse; but hath at last come off victoriously, and now leaves the party in disgrace wth all honest men for their base and wicked attempt agt. him.
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “The Honble. John Adams.”
1. John Temple was a native Bostonian, son-in-law of James Bowdoin, former royal customs official, and member of the numerous Temple family in England. A controversy—in which JA was tangentially involved—over his motives and support for the American cause had erupted upon his return to America in 1781 and culminated in a notorious newspaper controversy with James Sullivan, for which see vol. 11:xiv, 452. Temple and his family departed for England on 21 Nov., but he returned to America in 1785 as the first British consul general to the United States (AFC, 5:272).
2. Rev. Charles Chauncy was the minister of the First Church, Boston (AFC, 7:111). JA did not reply to this letter until 27 April 1785 (LbC, APM Reel 107). There JA apologized for not replying earlier, noted that John Temple had been appointed the British consul general at New York, and indicated that the letter would be delivered by JQA who was returning home.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0178

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1783-11-13

To the President of Congress

[salute] Sir

If any one should ask me what is the System of the present administration? I should answer, “to keep their places”— Every Thing they say or do appears evidently calculated to that End, and no Ideas of public Good no national Object is suffered to interfere with it.
In order to drive out Shelburne, they condemned his Peace which all the Whig Part of them, would have been very glad to have made, and have gloried in the Advantages of it. in order to avail themselves of the old Habits and Prejudices of the Nation, they now pretend to cherish the Principles of the Navigation act, and the King has been advised to recommend this in his Speech, & the Lords have echoed it, in very strong terms.
The Coalition appears to stand on very strong Ground, the Lords, and great Commoners, who compose it, count a great Majority, of Members of the House of Commons, who are returned by themselves, every one of whom is a dead Vote.1 They are endeavouring to engage the Bedford Interest with them, in order to strengthen themselves still more, by perswading Thurloe to be again Chancellor, and Mr: Pitt, whose personal Popularity and Family Weight with the Nation, is very desirable for them, is tempted with the Place of Chancellor of the Exchequer which Lord John Cavendish from mere Aversion to Business, wishes to resign.2
While they are using such means to augment their Strength, they are manifestly intimidated at the sight of those great national Objects, which they know not how to manage; Ireland is still in a State of Fermentation, throwing off the Admiralty Post office, and every other relick of British Parliamentary Authority, and contending for a free Importation of their Woollen Manufactures into Portugal, for the Trade to the East Indies, to the United States of America and all the rest of the World. in as ample manner as the English enjoy these Blessings the Irish Volunteers are also contending for a Parliamentary Reform, and a more equal Representation in their House of Commons, and are assembling by their Delegates in a Congress at Dublin to accomplish it. This Rivalry of Ireland is terrible to the Ministry. They are supposed to be at Work to sow Jealousies and Divisions between the Protestants and Catholics in Ireland.3
The East Indies exhibit another Scene, which will be formidable { 360 } to the Ministers Here center the Hopes of England; and it is certain that no System can be pursued which will give universal Satisfaction— Some require the Government to take that whole Country into their own Hands others demand aids in Cash, and Troops to the Company: Opposition will be first formed probably upon Indian affairs.
Public Credit, is the greatest Object of all— The necessary annual Expence, comprehending the Interest of the whole national Debt funded and unfunded, and the Peace establishment, will amount to near Seventeen Millions: the annual Receipts of Taxes have never yet amounted to Thirteen Millions: Here will be a deficiency then of near four Millions a year: which will render an annual Loan necesary, untill the debt will be so increased and the Stocks so sunk, that no Man will lend his Money— The Judicious, call upon Ministers for a Remedy and will embarass them with their Reproaches: but the Stock Jobbers are more numerous than the Judicious and more noisy. These live upon loans, and as long as Ministers borrow twelve Millions a Year, and employ the Stockjobbers to raise it, however certainly the Measure tends to Ruin, their Clamours will be for Ministers. an enormous Loan is the most popular Thing a Statesman can undertake so certain is the Bankruptcy of this Country. opposition will declame upon this Topick, but will make no Impression.
The United States of America, are another Object of Debate. if an Opposition should be formed, and concerted, I presume, that one fundamental of it, will be a Liberal Conduct towards us. they will be very profuse in Professions of Respect and affection for Us Will pretend to wish for Measures which may throw a veil over the past and restore, as much as possible the ancient good will. They will be advocates for some freedom of Communication with the West Indies, and for our having an equitable share of that carrying Trade &c.
Administration on the other hand I am confident will with great difficulty be perswaded to abandon the mean contemptible Policy which their Proclamations exhibit.
In my humble Opinion the only suitable Place for us to negotiate the Treaty in is London— Here with the most perfect politeness to the Ministry, we may keep them in awe, a Visit to a distinguished Member of Opposition, even if nothing should be said at it, would have more Weight with Ministers than all our Arguments— Mr: Jay is I believe, of the same opinion: But we shall not conduct the Negotiation here, unless Dr: Franklin should come over: indeed if { 361 } Congress should join us in a Commission to treat with other Powers, in my opinion, we might conduct the Business better here than at Paris— I shall however chearfully conform to the sentiments of my Colleagues.
The Delay of the Commission is to me a great embarassment, I know not whether to stay here return to Paris or the Hague. I hope every moment to receive advices from Congress which will resolve me.
I receiv’d yesterday a Letter from Mr: Hartley, with the Compliments of Mr: Fox and that he should be glad to see me, proposing the hour of Eleven to day which I agreed to.4 Mr: Jay saw him, one day this Week. Mr: Jay made him, and the Duke of Portland a Visit on his first Arrival.— they were not at home But he never heard from them untill my arrival, ten days or a fortnight after. informed of this, I concluded not to visit them and did not. But after a very long time, and indeed after Mr: Hartley’s return from Bath, Messages have been sent to Mr: Jay & me that Mr: Fox would be glad to see us.— it is merely for Form, and to prevent a Cry against him in Parliament for not having seen us, for not one Word was said to Mr: Jay of publick affairs, nor will a word be said to me.
The real Friendship of America seems to me the only Thing which can redeem this Country from total Destruction: there are a few who think so, here, and but a few and the present Ministers are not among them: or at least, if they are of this Opinion, they conceal it, and behave as if they thought America of small Importance. The Consequence will be, that little Jealousies and Rivalries, & Resentments will be indulged, which will do essential injury to this Country as they happen, and they will end in another War, in which will be torn from this Island all her Possessions in Canada, Nova Scotia, and the East and west Indies.
With great Respect I have the honour to be, Sir / your most obedient, and most humble Servant
[signed] John Adams.5
RC in JQA’s hand (PCC, No. 84, V, f. 219–222); internal address: “His Excellency the / President of Congress.”; endorsed: “Letter 13 Novr 1783 / John Adams / Read Jany 21. 1784.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 107.
1. In the Letterbook at this point, JA canceled “They are nevertheless timorous and jealous. They know the Nation.”
2. When JA wrote this letter, two days after the opening of Parliament, his appreciation of the strength of the Fox-North coalition and his sense of the likelihood of its remaining in power reflected prevailing opinion. He repeated these views on 4 Dec. in a letter to C. W. F. Dumas, below, but by 19 Dec. the coalition had fallen, to be replaced by William Pitt’s first administration, in which Pitt served as first lord of the treasury and chancellor of the exchequer and Edward Thurlow, { 362 } 1st Baron Thurlow, served as lord chancellor, the office he had held previously under North, Rockingham, and Shelburne. The coalition’s demise was then, as alluded to in the fifth paragraph of this letter, owing to the controversy that erupted over “Indian affairs,” notably the East India bills that Fox introduced on 18 Nov. (J. Steven Watson, The Reign of George III, 1760–1815, Oxford, 1960, p. 576, 578–579; Cannon, Fox-North Coalition, p. 106–144). For additional comment on the bills and the coalition’s fall, see JA’s 14 Dec. letter to the president of Congress, and note 4, below.
3. In fact, the situation in Ireland was not significantly better or worse than it had been since Parliament’s 1782 repeal of the Declaratory Act of 1720, which thereby established Irish legislative independence (vol. 13:141). The principal problem for Ireland during the tenure of the Fox-North coalition was the reluctance of the government at Westminster to do anything substantive about either constitutional or economic issues raised by political factions within Ireland because of the fragility of the coalition’s hold on power (James Kelly, Prelude to Union: Anglo-Irish Politics in the 1780s, Cork, Ireland, 1992, p. 59–60).
4. Presumably this sentence and the remainder of the letter were written on 15 Nov. 1783. David Hartley’s letter was dated the 14th and informed JA that “Mr Fox desires his Compliments to you & wd be very glad of the pleasure of your Company tomorrow morning viz Saturday at 11 o’clock forenoon” (Adams Papers). On 18 Nov., JA wrote AA that “I have been invited by the Duke of Portland and Mr. Fox to See them and I have Seen them and Mr. Burke [an]d met a cordial Reception from all three. These would [do?] right if they governed. But I am not certain, they are not Sometimes overruled or overawed” (AFC, 5:270). Nearly thirty years later JA recalled that “I was introduced by Mr. Hartley, on a merely ceremonious visit, to the Duke of Portland, Mr. Burke, and Mr. Fox; but finding nothing but ceremony there, I did not ask favours or receive any thing but cold formalities from ministers of state or ambassadors” (JA, D&A, 3:150); but see also his 28 Nov. 1783 letter to C. W. F. Dumas, below.
5. In JA’s hand.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0179

Author: Mather, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-11-13

From Samuel Mather

[salute] Honoured Sir,

As, from Your Discretion, Firmness of Mind and inviolable Integrity, I have expected great and good Things to be effected; You will allow me now to tell You, that my Expectation has not been disappointed.
I heartily bless the most wise and wonderful Counsellour, that you have been so happily directed and succeeded in your Foreign Embassy to the Credit, Emolument and Comfort of your own Countrey, as well as to your own Honour: And I persuade myself, that, as you have begun, You will continue to deserve well of the Community, to which You originally belong, and of which You are so useful a Member.
As I am now far advanced in Life, being now in my 78th. Year, I thought within myself, what I could do for the public Welfare and Happiness? And hence I formed the Conclusion to write the Legacy now inclosed to You: And, having written it, as I did not chuse to leave to my own Understanding, I Sent it to your Compatriot Mr.S. Adams; who Kept it for three Weeks, and then brought it Home: { 363 } And he told me, that, after his repetedly reading it, he approved it from Beginning to End, and he advised me to print it: whereupon I gave it to the Printer.1
And as I Sent one of them to his Excellency the President of Congress; I have the Comfort to inform You, that I have received his Thanks for it in a complaisant and respectful Letter from him.2
As your Talents for Serviceableness are considerable and conspicuous; and You will, I doubt not, wisely and faithfully improve them, by the Help of our Divine Redeemer sollicited and improved; I wish You continued and great Success in the Improvement of them, and the greatest Comfort and Satisfaction in Your Success both here and forever hereafter.
I commend you to the Special Guidance and Blessing of the great Lord of Heaven and Earth; and freely acknowlege myself to be / Your aged, obliged Friend / and most humble Servant.
[signed] Samuel Mather.
P. S. Mr. Temple, who brings This, has not been used tenderly here: And we think He deserves some Compensation for his rough Treatment in England.
RC (MHi:Adams-Hull Coll.); addressed: “Honble. Mr. Adams.”; endorsed: “Dr Mather / 13. Nov. 1783.”
1. Rev. Samuel Mather (1706–1785) was the son of Cotton Mather and the longtime minister of the Bennett Street Church in Boston. In The Dying Legacy of an Aged Minister of the Everlasting Gospel, Boston, 1783, Evans, No. 18032, Mather encouraged public-spiritedness and union among the states and insisted on the duty of all Americans to behave with righteousness (Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, 7:216–238). JA would have found of particular interest Mather’s exhortation that the United States avoid entanglement in European politics (p. 29), which echoed his own frequently expressed views regarding American relations with Europe. See, for example, JA’s 5 Feb. letter to the president of Congress, vol. 14:239–240. JA did not acknowledge receiving Mather’s “valuable Legacy” until his letter of 26 April 1785 (LbC, APM Reel 107), and the volume is not now in JA’s library at MB.
2. Elias Boudinot acknowledged receipt of Mather’s pamphlet in a letter of 20 Aug. 1783, affirming that the United States’ victory over Great Britain would not have been possible “independent of the special aid & overruling direction of Heaven” (Smith, Letters of Delegates, 20:565–566).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0180

Author: Warren, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-11-15

From James Warren

[salute] My Dear Sir,

Since my last which went in a French Brigt: by way of Nantes, Copy of which you have above,1 Nothing Material has taken place, except a Resolution of Congress to erect Buildings & to reside alternately on the Delaware & Potowmack, & in the mean Time they have adjourn’d to Annapolis on the 12th Instant,— this is consider’d { 364 } by the Patriots as a Triumph. Our Friend Gerry thinks the Measure will have Beneficial, & Extensive, Consequences, & particularly that, it will strengthen the Union, & Confidence of the Southern, & Northern States;— It will at least embarrass those Measures which had been so successful while Congress sat at Philadelphia, & which would have been fully executed had it return’d there again.—2 The last Ships from London bring us Advices that the definitive Treaty was sign’d the beginning of Septemr: but no Official Account is yet Arriv’d,—nor do we hear any Thing of the Commercial Treaty,— I can suppose that many Difficulties attend that Business— Mr Temple who goes for England and designs to go also to France takes this, and will hand or forward it to You,— I think he has been use’d here very hardly,— Our G——r and his Tools have been the Immediate Actors, whether their Conduct Originated from their Own little, narrow Policy, or is deriv’d from a higher Source I don’t know,— for my Part I have not a Single Reason to suppose he ever did, or ever wished to injure this Country, and he certainly has done it Service in some Instances, and for some Cause or Other has suffer’d greatly,— You will probably see him, & hear his Account of the whole Matter;— His principal Veiws in going to Europe are to endeavour to get from the present Ministry some compensation for the Losses he sustain’d by a former Administration,—& to see and bring Dr Franklin to an explicit Declaration with respect to the Letters;—3 I wish him Success in both,— If it be convenient for You to give him any Assistance, You will in my Opinion do Service to an honest Man, and oblige those who think him so— Your Lady & Daughter spent the Day with us Yesterday, You will probably have it under their own Hands by this Oppertunity that they are well—4 I am, with great Respect, / Yr Friend & Hble: Servt:
[signed] J Warren
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency John Adams Esqr”; endorsed: “Gen. Warren / Oct. 27. 1783.”
1. Warren’s last letter was of 27 Oct., above. He copied that letter prior to beginning this one, but only about half of the postscript to the earlier letter remains with this manuscript.
2. For the decision in October regarding the future residency of Congress, see the 27 Oct. letter from the president of Congress to the commissioners, and note 2, above. For more on Elbridge Gerry’s thoughts concerning the resolution, see his 23 Nov. letter, below.
3. At the time, John Temple was generally thought responsible for acquiring and transmitting to Benjamin Franklin in the early 1770s a number of confidential letters from Thomas Hutchinson and others to Thomas Whately, member of Parliament and government official. The letters were sent to Boston and published in the newspapers, leading the province of Massachusetts, through Franklin, its agent, to petition the Privy Council for the removal of Hutchinson and other royal officials. The resulting investigation by that { 365 } body resulted in the greatest humiliation of Franklin’s career: Alexander Wedderburn’s denunciation of him before the Privy Council on 29 Jan. 1774. Franklin, a longtime acquaintance of Temple, published a statement in Dec. 1773 declaring that he was solely responsible for obtaining and communicating the letters in question, but he did not, strictly speaking, exonerate Temple of all involvement in the affair. Temple’s role in the scandal remains unclear, although he is the most likely suspect since he had both motive and access to the correspondence. Franklin never disclosed, publicly or in private correspondence, the identity of the person who gave him the letters (JA, D&A, 2:79–81; AFC, 5:272; Franklin, Papers, 19:399–407; 20:513–516; 21:37, 40).
4. AA had written to JA on 11 Nov. and would write again, this time to both JA and JQA, on the 20th (AFC, 5:266–275, 277).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0181

Author: Dudley, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-11-19

From John Dudley

[salute] Honble. sir

I have taken frequent Liberties in troubleing you with Letters stating my Distressed Situation and Soliciting your Intrest in my behalf—am Exceeding sorry to think from your not taking any notice of my necessity—and from some small Hints given me—there is a Susspition arose—that I was not in the Service of the united States or if that I was—Since which, I might have been in the British Service—from which, I feal myself much more distressed in mind—than what I have been under all my other Sufferings—as I Can verrally say I have Ever since the commencment of the Late War been an Advocate for America have faught and bleed under there Coulars, though, at Last had the hard Misfortune to fall into the hands of the British which would not have been the case had I not been wounded on Howbuck Island2 New Jersey—which wound has Since caused the amputation of my Left Leg—and that I can make it appear that Every application I have made to British government for any assistence has been under the Charector of a prisnor of war and never was Looked on in any other Light by this government—copies of my Letters to the Secretaries of States office I have now in my own hands and the Origenal Letters may be found or answered for at the office—and to gard against any thing that might Injure my Charector as an American I am Truly Anxious to give Every Satisfaction that may Be Necessary on the Subject—and if agreeable to you to hear the particulars I will on friday or Saterday Morning obtain a Day Rule and call on you—when if any thing of the kind Should be found against me I shall never have the presumption to ask any Assistince or Even Expect it But would think But Just if I was Sent confind to Amireca and there Suffer as a crimenal— I Donot wish to { 366 } take the Liberty of waiting on you without priveous Leave So that a verbal answer By the Barer will Lay an Everlasting obligation on— / Honble. sir / Your Most Devoted / Much Distressed / Very Hble Servt. &
[signed] John Dudley
1. Dudley had written to JA on 14 Nov. (Adams Papers) concerning the circumstances of his transfer from Poultry Compter to Fleet Prison, newly rebuilt since its destruction during the 1780 Gordon Riots (London Past and Present, 2:56). According to him, he was “obliged to . . . Surrender from the compter by heabus corpus to the fleet prison in Discharge of my Bail for an old action.” His distress in the new prison was “greater—as there was one penney Bread given Every Day at the compter—and was a great help would Keep me from Entirely Starving— But when I Left the compter I had not money to pay the feas which was nine and Eight pence was obliged to Leave my hat—for payment and came to the fleet without any where I was an Entire Stranger and no Charity comes to it that I am allmost Starving have not one penny— have been now two Days without food and not a Soul to call and Bring me Even a peace of Bread.” For Dudley’s most detailed account of his travails since his capture, accompanied by certificates testifying to his status as a prisoner of war, see his letter of 30 Dec., below.
2. Or Hoobock Island (now Hoboken), N.J. See Dudley’s letter of 30 Dec., note 4, below.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0182

Author: Smith, Isaac Jr.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-11-19

From Isaac Smith Jr.

[salute] Dear sir,

The papers having announced yr. public appearance in this kingdom, I take the liberty of Congratulating you on yr. arrival in England, & on the success of yr. negociations in behalf of the United states of America.1
After much anxiety & toil, to see yr. wishes realized, to find the uncertainties of war ended, & the great object of it fully established & secured, must give you an high degree of satisfaction. America, I hope, will know how to make a proper improvement of the advantages which her independence is Capable of affording her, & that no Circumstances will arise, which may lead You hereafter to regret the part you have taken in the accomplishment of this important event.
It is an event indeed, which in my own imagination I Confess, I had postponed to a more distant period. Of the probability of success on our part in the late Contest, in the beginning of it at least, I had no idea whatever. For the issue of it however I shall not be sorry, so long as it Conduces to the happiness of America, the Country which I wish still to call my own. In this Country, Tho’ I have lived a considerable time, I Consider myself, as a stranger, & { 367 } should I be doomed to continue in exile here, it would make me extremely unhappy.—
Of public matters at Boston I have heard nothing of late. My brother was with me about two months ago. I had yesterday a letter from him, dated at Brussels, 8th instt, on his way to Paris, where I believe he expects to have the pleasure of seeing you.—2 I condole with You on the death of my Uncle Smith, of which I am just informed, & who Closed I find the scene of life with much serenity & peace.3 I flatterd myself with the thought of seeing him again in this word, tho’ advanced in years, but his lot is happier in being removed from it!—
I am sorry that my distance from town prevents me from paying my personal respects to you at present. Should you remain here thro’ the winter, perhaps I may have the opportunity of doing it. But whether I have the honour in England, or not, you will allow me to subscribe myself, with the greatest respect, dear sir, / yr. most obedt / hble servt
[signed] I Smith jr:
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “John Adams Esq. / at Mr: Stockdale’s. Book seller— / Picadilly— / London”; endorsed: “Rev. Is. Smith / ansd Decr. 4.”
1. Rev. Isaac Smith Jr. (1749–1829), the loyalist son of Boston merchant Isaac Smith Sr., was AA’s first cousin. He had graduated from Harvard in 1767 and later served as a tutor at the college, but he left America for England in May 1775. There he associated with various loyalists, including Thomas Hutchinson, and in 1778 was ordained by and ministered to the congregation of a dissenting church at Sidmouth, England. In 1784 he returned to Massachusetts, apparently suffering no serious consequences from his sojourn in England (Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, 16:523–530).
2. William Smith (1755–1816), brother of Isaac, was a 1775 Harvard graduate and Boston merchant who had sailed for Europe in July 1783. JA wrote to him on 12 Nov. that he had received “Two large Packets” for him and was forwarding the notes that had been enclosed with them (MHi:Smith-Carter Family Papers). Smith was at London when AA and AA2 reached the city in July 1784 and spent time with them before he sailed for Boston (AFC, 2:359; 5:206, 371, 372, 374, 376–380, 403, 408; JQA, Diary, 1:313).
3. JA first learned of Rev. William Smith’s death on 7 Nov. 1783, from a letter by Isaac Smith Sr. (AFC, 5:264) and mentioned it in his letter to William Smith of 12 Nov. (MHi:Smith-Carter Family Papers).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0183

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Cerisier, Antoine Marie
Date: 1783-11-20

To Antoine Marie Cerisier

[salute] Sir

Before I left Paris I wrote you, at the Desire of the Abby De Mably, on the Subject of his Letters to me, concerning our American Constitutions,. I have heard nothing more about them.1 Pray be So good as to let me know what Progress you make in printing { 368 } them. address your Letters to me, under Cover to Mr Joshua Johnson, on great Tower Hill, or to Mr John Stockdale, opposite Burlington House Piccadelly.
I have been here with my son, now these 3 or four Weeks, and have found agreable Company and curious Sights enough.— I hope it will not be many Months before I see you—But I hope to hear from you first.
[signed] Yours John Adams
RC (private owner, 1997); internal address: “Mr Cerisier.”
1. JA’s letter was of 16 Oct., above.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0184

Author: Cranch, Richard
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-11-21

From Richard Cranch

[salute] My dear Brother

Having this moment been informed that our Hond: Friend Mr: Temple is about to sail for England this Day, I gladly embrace the Opportunity of writing a few Lines to you by him.
He informs me that he shall use his Influence with those in Power, to promote the forming the Treaty of Commerce on the largest and most liberal Principles, if that Business is not already finished. His great Knowledge in the System of Trade, which his former Employment under Government furnished him with, will enable him to throw much Light on that Subject.— He also intends to get some Compensation for his Sufferings in being deprived of all his publick Employments, in which he expects that his Friend Mr. Hartly will assist him. Perhaps Mr. Temple will pay you a Visit before you return, when, your Interest with that Minister may be of Service to him.
He also wishes to get some matters respecting the bringing out of H——’s Letters, illucidated.
I have only to add that your Dear Lady and Children are well, and that I am with the highest Esteem and Affection, ever yours—
[signed] Richard Cranch
P:S. Our Hond: Friends Bowdoin1 and Warren have written more at large.
1. No letter from James Bowdoin has been found.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0185

Author: Gerry, Elbridge
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-11-23

From Elbridge Gerry

[salute] My dear Mr Adams

Mr Thaxter arrived here last Evening, by the Way of New York, with the definative Treaty, having narrowly escaped a severe storm by reaching that Port on Wednesday Evening— your Favours by him I have received with great Pleasure, as I was in Want of the Information they contain, as well as of your Sentiments on several important Subjects—2
Governor Reed will probably deliver You this, & my Confidence in him will induce me to be explicit—3
The great object of our political Enterprize with Britain is obtained; & if We have Wisdom & Virtue to improve the advantages, the Issue must be happy. “Laus Deo”4 should be the Motto of America & inscribed on every Device for commemorating this great Event; for none but atheists can be insensible of the first obligations wch. result on the Occasion.
Our Gratitude should nevertheless be shewn to such Individuals, as by their eminent Services, have been principal Instruments in promoting the Measure; & I consider it as an Act of Justice, with a meritorious Washington & Green, to rank those that are equally so in my Mind, an Adams & Jay. You well know that I am not addicted to Flattery, that I have an aversion to so contemptible a practice; but sensible as I am of the Benefits derived from your able negotiations in Europe, as well as your Services in America, give me Leave to express an Impatience, & Concern, not merely at the feeble attempts to sully the Reputations You have so nobly acquired; but also at the neglect & Indifference that has been manifested in doing that Justice to your Characters which Generosity & good Policy should in my opinion long ’eer this have exhibited; & which no Exertions on my part shall be wanting to perpetuate— indeed the Ingratitude which You have hitherto experienced is not to be imputed to the Citizens of America at large, but to some amongst them of ambitious & perhaps envious principles who think “all made for one, not One for all.”
Our Concerns are twofold, foreign & domestic.— the former by the Abilities, (entirely, by the Integrity & Abilities) of two of our Ministers, in negotiating the peace, are so far upon the best Footing. the Success of our Arms, God knows, would have been of no { 370 } Service to Us, had not the Magnanimity & Fortitude of our Ministers induced them to have departed in some Instances from their, (excuse me for calling them) servile Instructions— to compleat our external Concerns, nothing appears to me necessary, excepting Treaties of Commerce on reciprocal Terms, with every European Power that desires it. I am therefore fully of your opinion, with Respect to the Continuance of our Ministers for this purpose, & for establishing a Treaty of Amity with the Dey of Algiers & those other barbary princes that infest our Commerce, after which, I can see no necessity, but great Inconveniences in sending Ministers abroad or receiving them at Home, unless for special purposes. You will probably enquire, what Inconveniences I allude to, & the answer is, the Inconveniences of being entangled with European politics; of being the puppets of European Statesmen; of being gradually divested of our vertuous republican principles; of being a divided, influenced, & dissipated, people; of being induced to prefer the Splendor of our Court, to the Happiness of our Citizens; & finally of changing our Form of Government, established at an amazing Expence of Blood & Treasure, for a vile Aristocracy or an arbitrary Monarchy. these are the Inconveniences, or rather the deplorable Evils which I apprehend from a permanent System of Embassies, & had You seen what I have been so unfortunate as to see, after only three Years Absence from Congress, almost a total Change of political principles; had You the same Reasons for tracing those Effects to the Causes alluded to, perhaps We should not differ much in our proposals for a Remedy. We are my dear sir happily placed at a distance from civilized Nations, We are surrounded by barbarous ones, which if they could be humanized, would in my opinion be as far beyond some that boast of being civilized, as they conceive themselves to be above the others. if such a Love of Grandeur & power, as induces Men to prefer Art, Intrigue Injustice, perfidy & Inhumanity to the contrary Vertues, designate a civilized Nation, in Gods Name, may America never aspire to the delusive Honor, but may her ne plus Ultra be such a Degree of Dignity as is consistent with good Faith, & admits the Salus populi to be suprema Lex5—remote then from civilized Nations, wherein consists the policy of such Connections with them as must produce a Change of our principles both moral & political, a Change of our Government; the Loss of our internal Confidence & Tranquility; an Interest in their Broils & quarrels; in short Wars perpetual intestine or foreign? perhaps You may say { 371 } these are chimeras, mere Creatures of the Imagination; that can never be realized, by a ministerial Intercourse with European Powers: but behold the Influence already established in the United States by such Means, & then judge for Yourself, with this Assurance, if We differ in opinion on this point, that I shall with the greatest pleasure listen to your Reasons & be happy in acquiescing in them.
Our domestic affairs are much deranged in Consequence of the Necessity We have been under from the Commencement of the War of neglecting them altogether, or of using temperary Expedients— the first object of Attention is the Support of publick Credit. Independence will disgrace Us, unless We are honest in Payment of the publick Debts. this is a difficult Task! but not impracticable. an Impost has been layed or rathar proposed, & the Objections to it have been represented as manifesting a Disposition to violate the publick Faith. this Representation is neither candid nor just, & those who are opposed to the Impost have as I conceive better Reasons on their Part, for suspecting the Supporters of the Plan of a Design to establish an undue Influence, & to involve the Affairs of the Treasury in Mystery & perplexities that cannot be easily developed. the Fact seems to be this, it is difficult to form a Valuation & collect Taxes by the Confederation as it now stands. It may therefore require such an Alteration as will remedy these Defects; the former, may be removed by adopting Numbers in Leiu of property, & the latter, by enabling Congress to levy Executions on the property of Individuals of delinquent States, with provision for obliging the Treasurers thereof to reimburse the Amount of the property, with Damages, to such Individuals, out of the first Money that may be brot into the respective Treasuries— I have the fullest Confidence in the Integrity of the States, & am persuaded they will either accede to some such propositions when made by Congress, or propose others that will be equally effectual. but surely they are under no Obligation of Reason or Justice, to adopt a System for supporting publick Credit, incompatible with the principles of the fœderal Constitution, & dangerous to their Liberties— the people in some of the States have objected to the half pay or6 Commutation granted by Congress to the Army; & the Reason assigned is that this Grant was expressly made, to reimburse the Losses sustained by the Depretiation of their pay, which has been since made good. this I beleive was the Fact, & therefore the objection has much Weight, { 372 } but such a vertuous Army claims the Generosity of their Country, & I am happy to find that the opposition to the Commutation has in a great Measure subsided. indeed one Circumstance seems to have greatly increased the Opposition, the Superiority which the officers, on their Return Home, naturally assumed over their fellow Citizens, who were at least their Equals, & in many Instances Superiors before the War— your Letter to Congress on the Necessity of providing for payment of our foreign Debts has been improved for the purpose of supporting the System of Impost,7 but whether it will be finally adopted by all the States is at present problematical— some of the powers of the Superintendant of Finance, were given him at a Time when the Affairs of the Treasury were greatly deranged, by the Distruction of the paper Currency, & when the Demands of Money for supporting the War were great & indispensible, but the Exercise of these powers at the present Time is considered as being unnecessary by some of the States, & indeed as being dangerous & unconstitutional: they have therefore proposed by Instructions to their Delegates such Alterations as shall prevent the Influence apprehended from the Powers mentioned. indeed there has been lately an Alarm in the Minds of the best Republicans amongst Us, at Measures supposed to have arisen from the Influence mentioned, connected with that of the State of P——a, & a foreign Minister thorough paced in politics. to preserve therefore the fœderal ballance, Congress have determined no longer to reside in this City, but to erect Buildings for their Residence in two places, on the potowmack near George Town, & on the Deleware near Trenton; & untill the Buildings are erected, to sit alternately at Annapolis & Trenton. One fœderal town it is conceived, will collect a Number of wealthy Citizens, who with some of the foreign Ministers & the great Officers of the Departments under Congress, may form an oligarchical plan of Influence that may be subversive of our Liberties. but the alternate Residence of Congress in two places, will prevent in a great Measure such a Collection, & the Influence of one Town will counteract that of the other. the Expence of the Buildings is an object of no great Consequence, & double Archives may be kept without much Expence. this Measure was effected by a Junction of the eastern & southern States, being violently opposed by this & some others of the middle States. I confess the Measure appears to be more approved, on Account of the Quarter from whence the Opposition comes— another Species of Influence supposed to have had its Birth { 373 } in a foreign climate & to have been innocently fostered by the worthy officers of our Army, has made its Appearance under the Denomination of the Cincinnati. the Institution & Strictures thereon are inclosed for your perusal—8 a peace Establishment is proposed for garrisoning our western Frontiers & guarding the Magazines, but It is doubtful whether Congress will accept the proposition. should We have the Treasury under a Super Intendant with power to appoint all the Officers thereof; should We consent to the Impost, wch is veiwed as an intricate System for raising Supplies, without the Check constitutionally vested in the Legislatures, or the possibility of detecting Frauds in the Collection or Expenditures of the publick Monies; should We have one fœderal Town with Such Materials for an oligarchical Influence as have been mentioned; should We have a peace Establishment which by various pretences may hereafter be increased to a dangerous standing Army, not under the Controul of the respective States; should We consent to an order of Cincinnati consisting of all the Officers of the Army & Citizens of Consiquence in the united States; how easy the Transition from a Republican to any other Form of Government, however despotic! & how rediculous to exchange a british Administration, for one that would be equally tyrannical, perhaps much more so? this project may answer the End of Courts that aim at making Us subservient to their political purposes, but can never be consistent with the Dignity or Happiness of the united States.—
Your Resignation is not yet, & I flatter myself will not be accepted. The propriety of inserting Mr Jay & Yourself in the Commissions cannot I think fail of being so considered by Congress.9 if there are three Commissions, the preference may be in Rotation, in the first A, J, F in the second J F A in the third F A. J—& so on in more Commissions— Congress have determined on a circular Letter to the States for delegating a Power for a Time to regulate the Commerce of the Union, so as to counteract the commercial Systems of G Britain or other Powers unfavorable to the States10 I will endeavour if possible to comply with your request respecting Du Coudrai, shall write to Mrs Adams & give her the Information proposed, & shall be mindful of your proposals respecting Mr Thaxter; but not knowing what Members the new Congress will consist of, I can form no Conjecture of the Measures that will be adopted on any Occasion—11
Mr Jay is very friendly to You having written a Letter highly in { 374 } your Favour to Congress, recommended You as Minister to the Court of London, & declared his Refusal of the office if offerd to him—12
Your Lady & Family were well about six Weeks past. her Father died about that Time—
You will please to communicate what You think expedient to Mr Jay & Mr Dana,13 of the preceeding Scroll & be assured I am on every occasion yours sincerely
[signed] EG
in your Letters to Congress, it may be expedient to omit Circumstantials or Minutia as your General or comprehensive Letters are most acceptable.
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency Mr Adams”; endorsed: “Mr Gerry 23. Novr. / 1783.”
1. This letter was forwarded to JA by Joseph Reed, mentioned by Gerry in the second paragraph, and was received on 10 Feb. 1784 (from Reed, 30 Jan., below; to Reed, 11 Feb., LbC, APM Reel 107). But JA did not reply to Gerry until 27 June (LbC, APM Reel 107). In that letter, as does Gerry in this one, JA focused on Congress’ appointment of ministers to negotiate treaties in Europe, a task complicated by John Jay’s return to America.
2. When John Thaxter reached Philadelphia with the definitive treaty on 22 Nov. 1783, he found Congress in recess. On 4 Nov. the Congress, meeting at Princeton, had adjourned with the intention of resuming deliberations at Annapolis on 26 November. Severe weather, however, prevented the quorum of nine states needed for ratification from assembling until 14 Jan. 1784 (JCC, 25:807; 26:22–23). For the ratification, see the letters of 14 Jan. from Gerry, Arthur Lee, and Samuel Osgood to JA and from the president of Congress to the commissioners, all below.
Gerry wrote to AA on 24 Nov. 1783, reporting Thaxter’s arrival with not only the treaty but also a number of letters from JA to Gerry, presumably those of 3, 5, 6, 8, and 10 Sept., all above. Believing “it will be Indispensably necessary to continue him [JA] in Europe,” Gerry quoted brief passages from JA’s letters of 6 and 8 Sept. concerning the possibility of AA’s joining him in Europe and advised AA to wait until the spring to sail. That would avoid the dangers of a winter passage, and Congress would likely by then have made a final decision regarding JA’s diplomatic role (AFC, 5:275–276).
3. Joseph Reed had been an aide to George Washington, a delegate to Congress from Pennsylvania, and the president of that state. He traveled to England in 1783 to assist John Witherspoon in raising money for the College of New Jersey and also to restore his failing health. Returning to the United States the following year, Reed died in March 1785 at age 43 (DAB; Smith, Letters of Delegates, 21:489–490; from Reed, 30 Jan. 1784, and note 1, below).
4. Praise be to God.
5. That is, salus populi suprema est lex, or, the people’s welfare is the highest law.
6. Gerry marked for insertion at this point the following note written vertically in the left margin: “The commutation was an Exchange at the Request of the officers, of five Years pay in publick Securities, for their half pay during Life.”
7. For Robert Morris’ use of JA’s letters to promote the need for the impost, see his 5 Nov. 1783 letter to JA, and note 1, above.
8. Prior to the disbandment of the army in 1783, Gen. Henry Knox—working closely with his aide-de-camp Capt. Samuel Shaw as well as fellow officers Gen. Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben and Brig. Gen. Jedidiah Huntington—created the Society of the Cincinnati, an association comprising American and foreign army officers who served during the Revolution. On 15 April, Knox finished drafting a constitution for the society, known as its “Institution,” which laid out the { 375 } purpose and structure of the organization. An assembly of delegates, after debating and revising Knox’s draft, formally approved the document less than a month later on 13 May. By November, branches of the society existed in all thirteen states.
Ostensibly formed to maintain friendships among the former officers and to provide charity for needy members and their families, the society also served as an instrument with which to collectively advocate for veterans’ interests. Operating at the national, state, and county levels, the society welcomed as members officers who met certain criteria of service, including French officers as well as honorary members approved by individual states. Membership was hereditary, incorporating not only officers but “any of their eldest male posterity, and, in failure thereof, the collateral branches who may be judged worthy of becoming its supporters and Members.”
For months, the public largely was unaware of the society’s existence. But in the fall of 1783, as word of the society’s creation began to circulate more widely, Judge Aedanus Burke of South Carolina published a harsh critique: Considerations on the Society or Order of Cincinnati, Charleston, 1783. The pamphlet, according to the title page, proved that the society “Creates, a Race of Hereditary Patricians, or Nobility.” The crux of Burke’s argument was that “this Order is planted in a fiery, hot ambition and thirst for power, and its branches will end in tyranny . . . in less than a century it will occasion such an inequality in the condition of our inhabitants, that the county will be composed only of two ranks of men; the patricians or nobles and the rabble” (p. 8, Evans, No. 17862; Minor Myers Jr., Liberty without Anarchy: A History of the Society of the Cincinnati, Charlottesville, Va., 1983, p. 15–19, 23–26, 30, 48–50, 53–54, 66, 258–265).
The pamphlet appeared first at Charleston in October, but by 12 Nov., the Philadelphia Freeman’s Journal was advertising a Philadelphia edition, and it is likely that Gerry enclosed a copy of that version of the pamphlet, together with a copy of the society’s “Institution,” with his letter to JA, but no copy is now in JA’s library at MB. For JA’s very critical view of the society, see his 28 March 1784 letter replying to one of 8 March from the Marquis de Lafayette, the head of the society’s French chapter (Lafayette, Papers, 5:201–203, 211–212).
9. For JA’s resignation as peace commissioner and minister to the Netherlands, upon which Congress never acted, see his letter to Robert R. Livingston of 4 Dec. 1782, vol. 14:112–113. Not until 7 May 1784 would the commissions envisioned by Gerry be issued for 23 treaties with countries in Europe and North Africa, and then the commissioners would be JA, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. For Congress’ earlier effort to issue commissions on 1 May 1783, which was never implemented, see the 16 June letter from the president of Congress to the commissioners, note 2, above, and vol. 14:244.
10. On 29 Sept., following the alarming report of a committee assigned to consider recent communications from foreign ministers, Congress resolved “that a committee be appointed to prepare an address to the states upon the subject of commerce, stating to them the regulations which are prevailing in Europe, the evils to be apprehended therefrom, and the steps proper to be taken to guard against and to counteract them.” That committee reported to Congress on 9 Oct., but nothing more was done until early 1784 when Congress enlarged the committee and changed its composition. The report eventually submitted to Congress on 22 April and adopted on the 30th recommended that the states grant Congress control over imports and exports for a term of fifteen years (JCC, 25:628–629, 661–664; 26:317–322).
11. Here Gerry responds specifically to JA’s letters of 5 and 8 Sept. 1783, both above.
12. On 30 May John Jay wrote Livingston to strongly recommend JA’s appointment as minister to Great Britain. Jay requested “the favor of you to declare in the most explicit Terms that I view the Expectations of Mr Adams on that head, as founded in Equity & Reason, & that I will not by any means stand in his Way. Were I in Congress I should vote for him. He deserves well of his Country and is very able to serve her. . . . I do therefore in the most unequivocal manner decline and refuse to be a Competitor with that faithful Servant of the public for the Peace in Question” (PCC, No. 89, II, f. 486–489; Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 6:457–458).
13. Gerry wrote a letter to Francis Dana on 26 Nov., almost certainly enclosing it with his letter to JA. JA received neither Gerry’s letter nor its enclosure until June 1784, long { 376 } after Dana had returned to America (to Gerry, 27 June 1784, LbC, APM Reel 107). He apparently kept the letter to Dana, for it remains in the Adams Papers.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0186

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Holtzhey, Jean George
Date: 1783-11-24

To Jean George Holtzhey

[salute] Sir

Since I have been in London, a number of Gentlemen have expressed a Desire to have the Medals, struck by you in Commemoration of the Connection between your Country and mine.—1
I should be obliged to you, if you would send me three of each Sort, and apply to Messrs Wilhem & Jan Willink for your Pay, who will charge it to my Account. Send them, if you please, to the Care of Mr: John Stockdale opposite Burlington House, Piccadilly, London.— The sooner they arrive here the better— I fancy Mr: Stockdale would be able to sell a great Number of them here, if you should think proper to send them to him for Sale If you could procure me also, three of those, which were struck by the Society Liberty and Zeal, in Friesland, I should be glad.2
I am Sir very respectfully your most humble Servant.
LbC in JQA’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mr: Holtzhey Medallist. Amsterdam.”; APM Reel 107.
1. These are Holtzhey’s two medals commemorating, respectively, Dutch recognition of the United States on 19 April 1782 and the signing of the Dutch-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce on 8 Oct. 1782. For a description and reproduction of the first, which JA received with a 20 Oct. 1782 letter from Holtzhey, see vol. 13:xiv–xv, 536–537, 538. For the second, which Holtzhey enclosed with his letter of 23 Dec. 1782, see vol. 14:145–146.
2. This medal commemorated Friesland’s recognition of the United States on 26 Feb. 1782 and was issued by the Société Bourgeoise of Leeuwarden. For a description and reproduction of the medal, as well as the society’s 29 April 1783 presentation letter, see vol. 14:xiv, 458–462, 463.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0187

Author: Cushing, Thomas
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-11-26

From Thomas Cushing

[salute] Dear Sir

I have not had the Honor of any of your Favors for some time past. althô I have been frequently favoured with Letters, from divers commercial Houses in France and Holland, upon the Subject of Bussiness, owing to your kind mention of my Name to those Houses, for which I am oblidged to you—1 I heartily congratulate you and my Country, that You, togather with the other Commissioners, have been able to Negotiate and Settle a Peace upon such honourable & Advantageous terms: These Negotiations do you great Honor in the Estimation of the People and I sincerely hope you will { 377 } not fail to receive ample testimonials of their Gratitude— It gives us great Pleasure to hear by the last Vessells from Europe that the Definitive Treaty was signed on the Third of September last.
I sincerely wish that the Articles of the Treaty of Commerce between G Brittain and the United States, now in contemplation, may be formed by the Commissioners of the contracting Powers, upon Principles of Liberality and Reciprocity and thereby such a beneficial Intercourse be established between the two Countries as to promise and secure to both perpetual Peace and Harmony, but I very much fear from the latest intelligence from England that the Ministry are governed by such narrow and self interested Veiws that there is very little prospect at present of any such Treatys being Agreed upon—
I apprehend it will take some time before the People throughout the United States entertain just Sentiments of their Importance as a Nation, We are yet in our Infancy, Time and Experience must discover & Convince us of the necessity of supporting our Character and Credit as a Nation, and that, for these purposes, we must Invest Congress with such Powers as are essential to a Continental Government & must effectually provide them with a sufficient Fund to pay the Interest, if not, the principal of the National Debt— The Measures that have been heretofore recommended by Congress to the United States to Effect this Bussiness have not as yet been Complied with by the States, Congress last Spring repeated their recommendations upon this subject, Most, if not all, of the Southern & Middle States have Complied, The Governor opened the late Session of our General Assembly with a Speech strongly recommending a Compliance with the recommendations of Congress relative to this interesting subject & in about Ten Days after in a message, (Wherein he communicated some Extracts of yr Letters to the Financier & took occasion to mention your Name with great Honor)2 he repeatedly urged their Attention to this Bussiness and after much Debate and Altercation the Two Houses have past an Impost Acct for the Purpose of furnishing a revenue, which I imagine will meet the Approbation of Congress and I hope Connecticut Rhode Island and New Hampshire will after a little more Consideration pass simular Acts, so that I am really of Opinion that Matters with respect to the support of our Public Credit Are in a much better train than they have as yet been. Dr Holten who has just arrived from Congress Informs that they had come to a Resolution to fix their Residence at Trenton but it gave such uneasiness to the { 378 } Members from the Southern States that Congress found themselves under a Necessity to reconsider the matter and the southern & the Eastern members after some Consultation, Uniting in their Sentiments, Agreed to move for Congress’ setting Alternately at Annapolis in Maryland & at Trenton in the Jers’y’s & accordingly the Motion was Agreed to & the Measure adopted by Congress and it has been Attended with the happy Effect of removing many Jealousies that were Subsisting, & of uniting the members of Congress in all their Measures for the Public Good more than ever,
Having been informed that you had frequently complained that your Freinds had not kept you properly Informed of what was passing here, I, as one of them, could not refrain from writing you by this Opportunity, tho I am very doubtfull whether I have furnished you with any thing New—
I shall esteem my self happy in hearing from you as often as your Leisure will permit— I wish you much Health & all the Honor & Happiness you can expect in this Changeable State and remain / with great Respect / Yr Freind & Humble Servt.
[signed] Thomas Cushing
PS. It is apprehended there will be some difficulty in Settling the Line between this State & Nova Scotia however hope the Definitive Treaty will be so explicit as to prevent all Dispute—
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency John Adams Esq”; endorsed: “Mr: T. Cushing. / Boston Nov’r 26th 1783. / ansd May 7. 1784.”
1. Cushing’s last extant private letter to JA was of [ante 14] Jan. [1779], to which JA replied on 24 Feb. 1779 (vol. 7:356–357, 424–425). Cushing received JA’s 7 May 1784 reply in Aug. (from Cushing, 16 Aug. 1784, Adams Papers), but the reply itself has not been found.
2. In a speech before the Mass. senate and house of representatives on 9 Oct. 1783, John Hancock introduced extracts of JA’s letters stressing “the necessity of supporting the credit of the United States.” Praising JA’s credentials and experience, Hancock asked “What must be his feelings, and what those of our other respectable negociators abroad who have been authorised to borrow monies in the name and upon the faith of the United States, should any diversity of sentiment respecting the mode of raising supplies, be allowed to operate so far as to retard the payment even of the interest, and to stain our credit through the world!” (Boston Evening Post, 18 Oct.). See also Robert Morris’ letter of 5 Nov., and note 1, above.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0188

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Dumas, C. W. F.
Date: 1783-11-28

To C. W. F. Dumas

[salute] Dear Sir

I have been So taken up with Royal Societies and Royal Accademies, with British Musæums and Sir Ashton Levers Musæum with Wedgwoods Manufactory of Earthen Ware and Parkers of Glass, &c { 379 } that I have not had time to write you a Line.1 You Observe I say nothing of Politicks for although I have been introduced to the great Politicians at their Desire I have not found them Sufficiently well disposed to induce me to Spend much time that Way.
I think to Stay here a few Weeks and then return to the Hague unless I should in the mean Time, receive orders from Congress to go elsewhere.
Write me all the News, if you please under Cover to Mr Joshua Johnson Coopers Row, great Tower Hill, or John Stockdale, Opposite Burlington House Piccadilly.—either of these Addresses will do.—
I expect Mrs Adams, to arrive Somewhere in Europe, in France England or Holland I hope it will be Holland, and in Such a Case I shall Soon be there.
My Respects to the Ladies, and believe me / your most obedient
[signed] J. Adams
RC (PPL:Smith Manuscript Coll.); internal address: “Mr Dumas.”; endorsed: “Mr. Jn. Adams.”
1. On 4 Nov., JA, in company with JQA, John Jay, William Bingham, and William Vaughan, visited Sir Ashton Lever’s natural history museum, or Holophusikon, and the British Museum. In his later description of his visit to the first, JA noted that he had seen “Sir Ashton and some other knights, his friends, practising the ancient but as I thought long forgotten art of archery.” JQA, in his Diary, provided a more detailed description of the collections at the two museums, noting that while the British Museum’s were “much more extensive,” with regard to natural history “Sir Ashton Lever’s Collection is much more perfect” (JQA, Diary, 1:199–200; JA, D&A, 3:151). In a 5 Nov. letter to Peter Jay Munro, JQA expanded on his Diary entry for the previous day, commenting more fully on Lever’s display of “curiosities” collected in the course of Capt. James Cook’s final voyage and the fragments of Alexander Pope’s translation of The Iliad and the original of the Magna Carta that the party had seen at the British Museum (NNMus).
JA probably refers to a visit to the Josiah Wedgwood showroom in London at Newport Street and St. Martin’s Lane rather than the firm’s manufactory in distant Staffordshire. William Parker manufactured cut-glass ware and lamps at 69 Fleet Street in London. It is not known when JA visited either, but in his later account he noted that he “was not less delighted with the elegance of his [Wedgwood’s] substitute for porcelain, than with his rich collection of utensils and furniture from the ruins of Herculaneum.” With regard to Parker’s “manufactory of cut glass,” he wrote that “it seemed to be the art of transmitting glass into diamonds” (DNB; A. E. Musson and Eric Robinson, Science and Technology in the Industrial Revolution, Manchester, Eng., 1969, repr. edn., N.Y., 1989, p. 264; JA, D&A, 3:151).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0189

Author: Dumas, C. W. F.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-11-28

From C. W. F. Dumas

[salute] Monsieur

Il y a longtemps que je me serois fait un devoir de vous écrire, si j’avois eu votre adresse, qu’on vient de m’apprendre de la part de { 380 } Mr. Ridley.1 Je ne puis cependant entrer dans les mêmes détails, ni parler aussi clair, que lorsque vous êtes à Paris. Car si nous som̃es présentement bien avec la Tamise, ceux d’ici ne le sont pas encore tout-à-fait; & ils trouveroient mauvais, avec raison, que les paquebots fussent dépositaires de leurs secrets.
Les tergiversations, pour ne pas terminer avec cette rep., ne font nullement ici l’effet que se promettent ceux delà & deça qui les mettent en oeuvre. On les méprise au pied de la Lettre; & certain parti continue de gagner, en faisant tourner à son profit tous les projets de l’autre.2
On ne s’inquiete pas plus de ce qui vient de se passer sur les frontieres, que de la lenteur à terminer qu’on montre dans vos quartiers; & l’on ne doute pas que tout cela est manigancé par certaines gens ici & à B–d–c.3
On sait aussi de la meilleure main, qu’il n’est pas vrai que la Cour de Londres témoigne ne pas vouloir de Mr. De Linde; & que tout ce qui s’est dit & écrit sur ce sujet, est forgé par une cabale de Diplomatiques à L—— & à Lah——, pour faire plaisir à quelqu’un.4
Permettez, Monsieur, que Mr. votre fils trouve ici Mes amitiés.
Nous avons tous pris une part sensible à votre indisposition à Paris, & à votre bon rétablissement, & espérons que vous jouissez présentement d’une santé inaltérable.
S’il y a des nouvelles Américaines & Britañiques, ou quelque avis pour nos amis, que vous puissiez, Monsieur, me marquer sans inconvénient, je les recevrai avec plaisir & reconnoissance, & en ferai bon usage.
Je suis avec grand respect, / De Votre Excellence / Le très-humble & très-obéissant serviteur
[signed] C.w.f. Dumas


[salute] Sir

I would have made it my duty to write to you a long time ago, if I had had your address, of which I have just been apprised by Mr. Ridley.1 I cannot go into the same detail, however, nor speak as clearly as when you are at Paris. For, although we are at present in good standing with the Thames, those here are not yet completely so, and they would look askance, and with reason, on packet boats being the depositories of their secrets.
The tergiversations, while we are still on the subject of this republic, do not at all have the effect promised by those on either side who are putting them into action. They are literally held in contempt, and a certain party { 381 } continues to win out by turning to its own advantage all the projects of the other.2
One is no longer troubled by what just happened at the borders, except for the slowness in finishing up shown by your side, and one does not doubt that all this is a scheme on the part of certain people here and at B–d–c.3
I have it from a reliable source that it is not true that the Court of London shows evidence of not wanting anything to do with Mr. De Linde and that all that has been said and written on this subject has been wrought by a cabal of diplomats at London and The Hague for the pleasure of a certain someone.4
Permit me, sir, to send my friendly greetings here to your esteemed son.
We have all been greatly moved by your indisposition at Paris and by your strong recovery, and we hope that at present you enjoy unalterable good health.
If there is news, American or British, or an announcement for our friends that you might write me, sir, without inconvenience, I would receive it with pleasure and gratitude and would make good use of it.
I am, with great respect, your excellency’s very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] C.w.f. Dumas
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Londres à Son Exce. Mr. Adams, Min. Pl.”
1. On 13 Nov. Dumas sent Matthew Ridley two unidentified letters to be sent on to JA. Ridley replied on 21 Nov., indicating that the letters had been forwarded and that JA’s address was “Mrs Wallace Johnson & Muir à Londres” (MHi:Ridley Letterbooks).
2. Dumas refers to Joseph II’s 1781 unilateral renunciation of the 15 Nov. 1715 Barrier Treaty and its consequences for the Netherlands. For Dumas’ detailed explanation of the particular incident that sparked his comment, see his letter of 12 Dec. 1783 responding to JA’s of the 4th, which indicated that JA was unclear as to Dumas’ meaning, both below.
3. Dumas’ reference remains obscure.
4. Presumably this refers to Baron Dirk Wolter Lynden van Blitterswyck. The Gazette d’Amsterdam of 24 Oct. indicated that while the Netherlands would send no minister to London until after the definitive peace was concluded, the person eventually selected would surely be “Mr. de Lynden,” already nominated by the province of Zeeland. On 4 Nov. the paper reported on the lack of progress in concluding the Anglo-Dutch definitive treaty but noted the persistent rumor that Sir Joseph Yorke would be named the British minister to the Netherlands, indicating the British determination to “persiste dans l’ancien Systéme,” and also that Charles James Fox had indicated that the minister designated by the Netherlands for Britain was unacceptable to his court. In any event, Britain and the Netherlands did not exchange ministers until late 1784, and then it was Sir James Harris and Baron Lynden van Blitterswyck, respectively (Repertorium, 3:166, 264).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0190

Author: Pownall, Thomas
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-11-30

From Thomas Pownall

I feel so uneasy about the manner in which you went from hence to London without your Servants—& with a Man not used to drive— { 382 } that I cannot satisfye myself without sending a Servant to know how you gott to town I hope without any accident—& that You & Your son are well.1
RC (NjMoHP); internal address: “Govr Pownall P:H:C to the Honle Mr Adams”; addressed: “The Honble Mr Adams / &c &c / &c.”
1. According to JQA’s Diary, he and JA set out for Richmond, about ten miles from London, at nine o’clock on the morning of 29 Nov. and returned that evening for dinner (JQA, Diary, 1:206). Indeed, Pownall’s concern was probably over the lateness of JA and JQA’s return to the city. According to his later account, JA’s purpose in making the excursion was to visit Pownall, former governor of Massachusetts, and Richard Penn, Pennsylvania proprietor (JA, D&A, 3:151). In a 2 Dec. letter to Peter Jay Munro, JQA expanded on his Diary entry, noting that it was reputed “to be the most Beautiful Spot in England, or perhaps in Europe; it is a pretty steep hill, which Commands a plain of a vast extent; in this Plain, you see, the river Thames, winding round and round; the midst of the Meadows, which, even at this Season, are Universally covered with Verdure.— it is a most Beautiful Spot: at a small distance from the Hill; down on the Banks of the Thames, —is Twickenham, formerly the Residence, of ALEXANDER POPE no wonder he was a Poet.— I should think, that a Man who pass’d his days, in such a Romantic Situation, can be no other than a Poet” (NNMus).
Pownall again wrote to JA, probably in Dec., when he was in London (Adams Papers, filmed at [1783]). With that letter the ex-governor sent a copy of his two-volume work, Administration of the Colonies, probably the sixth edition published at London in 1777 that is now in JA’s library at MB, bearing the inscription: “Govr Pownall presents as a Testimony of his Esteem & Respects this Copy of the following work to Mr. Adams” (Catalogue of JA’s Library). In the same letter, Pownall indicated that he would visit JA on the following day “with that Person whom He yesterday mentioned to Mr Adams.” That “Person” may have been Gustaf Adam, Baron von Nolcken, the Swedish envoy to Great Britain. In a 10 Feb. 1784 letter to the president of Congress, JA indicated that Nolcken, at the minister’s request, had been introduced to him by Pownall (LbC, APM Reel 107). For additional information on the JA-Pownall relationship, particularly with regard to Pownall’s writings about America, see Edmund Jenings’ letter of [ca. 8 July 1783], note 6, above.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0191

Author: Staphorst, Nicolaas & Jacob van (business)
Author: Willink, Wilhem & Jan (business)
Author: La Lande & Fynje, de (business)
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-12-02

From Wilhem & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, and De la Lande & Fynje

[salute] Sir

The relation, in which we have the honour to Stand with your Excellency concerning the American Loan, makes it our Duty to inform your Excellency with the following circumstances2
We received Some time hence a letter from Mr. Morris dated 5th August, by which he advised us that he had determined to value upon us by his drafts till the amount of half a million Florins. We calculated at that time that the ballance we had in hands, with the net Proceeds of the Cargo Tobacco of the Ship Sally,3 would not be Sufficient to pay those drafts; and that in Case we should have no opportunity to Sell one or two hundred Bonds at least, we were exposed to a disbursement of about the amount of that value. { 383 } Notwithstanding this we took the Resolution to honour the mentioned drafts, and determined that we shall advance the difficient money if at the Time of their payment we will not have so much Cash.
We did not hesitate to give Assurances of this in our Answer to Mr. Morris, exposing however at the Same Time the very disagreable Circumstances in the Business of the Loan. This our Letter to Mr. Morris was dated 11 July and we hope he’ll have received the Same Speedily. Our next and following Letters were no less discouraging, because notwithstanding our repeated Endeavours we could not make an Engagement, nor dispose of any quantity of Bonds.
When this happened in Europe, Mr. Morris must at the same Time have been in the best Expectation about the Business, since He advises us by his Letter of the 1st. October that he was informed (tho’ thro’ an indirect Channel) that your Excellency’s Journey to Holland had given a new Spring to the American Credit, and that the Loan was going on well.4 This being the Case He determined to value on us to the amount of half a million more. Which together with the other half million, makes a whole million of Florins, for payment of which we have only in Cash, the net Proceeds of the sold Tobacco included, near f400,000—
We received this advice last Sunday, and assembled in the afternoon to agree with one another, what we should do in those Circumstances?
We were very much mortified about it, apprehending that those drafts might Soon be offered for acceptance, and knowing the very little appearences, or almost impossibility of a better Success in the Loan, within the Time when the Drafts will become due. And we are sorry to inform your Excellency that our apprehensions were but too well founded, since already the next day about two hundred thousand florins were offered.
In this disagreable Position we determined to Send immediately an Express to his Excellency B. Franklin at Paris with a Letter, whereby we informed him of what was going on, and desired that he should inform, wether perhaps Mr. Grand had a Ballance in favour of the United States, and that he should order to keep that Ballance to our disposition. But if there should be no Ballance in the hands of Mr. Grand, or if the Ballance should not be of such a large Sum, then we desired that Mr. Franklin should give his ministerial word to provide us, or to do honour to our drafts till the amount of half a million of Florins, in case we should come in the necessity to make use of such an operation, which will very likely or almost certainly { 384 } be unavoidable. The Express is gone the Same evening, and we take the liberty to Send your Excellency here inclosed a Copy of our Letter to Mr. Franklin, for your perusal.5
We are very Sorry that Mr. Morris gives so much Credit to an indirect advice, the authenticity of which we are ignorant of, because it is certain, that there by he exposes the whole American Credit in Europe. For in Case the answer of Mr. Franklin should not be quite Satisfactory, and that by consequence we should be put in the necessity to decline the acceptance of the drafts, we fear it will cause a great Cry, and give a discredit to America. We hope it will not happen, and that in the meantime your Excellency and Congress will look upon our offer to Mr. Franklin for to honour Mr. Morris’s Drafts upon his promise and Guaranty, and also upon the Expedition of the Express, as proofs of our Zeal and Endeavours to remove every Thing, that might do any mischief to the american Credit.
We have the honour to remain very respectfully / Sir / Your most humble and Obedt. Servts.
[signed] Wilhem & Jan Willink
[signed] Nics. & Jacob van Staphorst.
[signed] de la Lande & fynje
P. S. After having written our Letter to your Excellency the greatest part of the holders of Mr. Morris’s drafts, being Jews, whom it doth not Suit to wait for the acceptance of their remittances have determined to make them protested, which we could not prevent. We have given for answer that we had not received the advice, and that we desired that the bills should be offered again for payment when due, which we thought to be the best answer for to preserve the Credit of the drafts as much as we possibly could. The amount of those protested bills is about f170.000—.
We are sorry to observe a Second Time, that Mr. Morris promised not to distribute his drafts till some time after the advice, and that a few days after they come up. The first time was by his letter of 5 Augt. when he had determined to draw two hundred thousand florins or perhaps till five hundred thousand, but he would only dispose of the bills as occasion might require, which must have been soon after, as we observed by the appearence of the Bills. Now by his letter of 1 Oct. the Bills for the amount of the second half Million of that date were lying in his hands to be disposed of during that month and the succeeding or perhaps even in Decr. and by the Nos. of the Bills we presume that allmost the whole Sum must have been disposed of before the 26 of October, which as much as we { 385 } know is the date of the last Letters from Philadelphia. This is very disagreable to us, and it seems but reasonable, that Mr. Morris ought to have waited Some time longer after his advice with the distribution of his drafts, by whose means it might have been possible to make some arrangement here in Europe, and to prevent the misfortune at which he has now exposed his drafts. We have again the honour to remain / Sir / Your most obedt. Servts.
[signed] Wilhem & Jan Willink
[signed] Nics. & Jacob van Staphorst.
[signed] de la Lande & fynje
RC and enclosure (Adams Papers); internal address: “to His Excellency John Adams Esqr. London.”
1. JA’s 5 Dec. letter to Benjamin Franklin, below, indicates that JA received this letter from the consortium on the 5th. He did not respond, however, until 14 Dec., below. The delay was owing to his waiting for Franklin’s reply of 10 Dec., below, but nine days having passed, JA presumably felt compelled to reply without further delay.
2. Although the consortium’s letter of 16 Oct., above, warned JA of problems with the loan, notably the falloff in subscriptions since July, this is the first letter in which they revealed the full magnitude of the crisis regarding American credit in Europe. The emergency was precipitated by letters of 5 Aug. and 1 Oct. from Robert Morris to the consortium, both of which are accurately summarized in this letter. For both the letters and a detailed examination of Morris’ motives and the circumstances leading to the crisis and ultimately to JA’s hurried journey to the Netherlands to resolve it, see Morris, Papers, 8:387–397, 564.
3. The ship Sally reached the Netherlands in the fall of 1783 with a cargo of tobacco consigned to the consortium, which realized f98,278.18 from its sale (same, p. 91, 396). For additional proceeds from the sale of tobacco carried by the Princess Ulrica and the Four Friends, which reached Amsterdam in early 1784, see Matthew Ridley’s letter of 27 Dec. 1783, note 4, below.
4. The passage from the opening parenthesis to this point is a paraphrase from Morris’ 1 Oct. letter. There, he noted that in issuing the bills of exchange he had “a little exceeded” the sums mentioned in his letters of 5 Aug. and 18 September. “But before this was done I had the Pleasure to learn (tho thro an indirect Channel) that Mr. Adams’s Journey to Holland had given a new Spring to our Credit, and that your Loan was going on well. This being the Case I determined to value on you to the Amount of half a Million more” (Morris, Papers, 8:393–394, 529–531, 564).
5. The enclosed letter to Benjamin Franklin, which the consortium accurately summarizes, is undated but was written on Sunday, 30 November. Franklin replied on 3 Dec. that he was “very Sensible of your zeal for Supporting the Credit of the united States, and the difficulties you must be exposed to in accepting all the Drafts of Mr: Morris,” but after consulting with “our Banker Mr: Grand . . . the means of assisting us are not in his hands, as to the proposition of mÿ accepting bills drawn on me at three Months, I do not See the least Probalility of my having more money to Command at that time than I have at present, So that the Expedient would be inëffëctual.” Franklin indicated that Grand planned to write to the bankers himself, which he did, also on the 3d. Grand there indicated that while he sympathized with the consortium’s predicament and would do what he could, Congress’ funds at his disposal were already committed to meet current expenses, and he had none with which to assist the consortium. The consortium enclosed copies of both letters of 3 Dec. with theirs of 23 Dec., below, and they are with that letter in the Adams Papers.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0192

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Dumas, C. W. F.
Date: 1783-12-04

To C. W. F. Dumas

[salute] Dear Sir.

Last Night I received your favour of the 28th Novr: and hope in future to hear often from you, although I dont expect to be informed of the Politicks of the Country, so particularly as heretofore, yet you may write freely under the Same Cover.
I should be glad, however to know, truly what has happened upon the Frontiers; I hope the Comte de Linden will be appointed notwithstanding the Paragraphs as Silly as they are impudent, which represent St: James’s as against it.1
Mr: Fox will rule the Roost here for some time. The present Ministry is very Strong in Parliament, but not so well principled nor so well disposed, towards America as they ought to be.
We are in daily Expectation of the Arrival of our Courier Barney, at Havre de Grâce—2 if he should not bring me orders of another Sort I shall come to the Hague, and wait the Arrival of my Family— My Boy desires his respects.
Your’s most respectfully.
LbC in JQA’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mr: Dumas.”; APM Reel 107.
1. See Dumas’ reply of 12 Dec., below.
2. See JA’s 5 Dec. letter to Benjamin Franklin, below.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0193

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Smith, Isaac Jr.
Date: 1783-12-04

To Isaac Smith Jr.

[salute] Dear Sir.

Your Favour of Novr: 19th did not find me, till yesterday, which I regret, because I should have had an earlier opportunity to thank you for your kind Congratulations.
It is indeed to me the highest Satisfaction to see my Country at Peace after so Long and so distressing a War, and much more to see her in a Situation which places her Liberties and Prosperity out of Danger— nothing which can happen will ever make me regret the Part I have taken, because it was taken upon full Deliberation, and upon the Principle of Duty as a Man and a Citizen, not only without any Prospect of bettering my private Interest but with the Sure and certain Expectation of injuring it very considerably.
I hope Sir and believe that after some Time there will be no Objection to your returning to America, if you chuse it.
{ 387 }
The News of the Death of my Father Smith notwithstanding his Advanced Age, affected me much and makes me anxious to hear from my Mrs: Adams who must be affected more tenderly.
I hope Soon to hear of the Arrival of this Lady and her Daughter in Europe, either in France England or Holland, most probably the last as that is my Home, where I should be glad to see you if I should not be so lucky as to meet you in England before I leave it.— Your Brother I hope soon to see here on his Return from Paris.
with much Esteem and Affection I am your / Fd: and Sert:
LbC in JQA’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “The Reverend Isaac Smith.”; APM Reel 107.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0194

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Date: 1783-12-05

To Benjamin Franklin

[salute] Sir

Commodore Jones is just arrived from Philadelphia with Dispatches.1 Those directed to the Ministers I opened. one contained nothing but Newspapers and Proclamations. The other contained a Letter to “the Commissioners” and a Sett of Instructions. The Letter bears Date the 1. of November the Instructions the 29 of Octr.— a remaining Packet is directed to you alone, but probably contains a Commission to Us all to treat of Commerce with Great Britain.2
Mr Jay and Mr Laurens are at Bath and the bearer is inclined to go on to Paris. I shall Send on the Dispatches and depend upon your Sending Us, the earliest Intelligence, if you find a Commission (in the Packet to you,) in Pursuance of the Resolution of the first of May last, because that Parliament must do Something before they rise respecting the Trade, and their Proceedings may probably be Somewhat the less evil, for knowing beforehand that there is in Europe a Power to treat.
I Shall wait with Some Impatience to hear from you because, if there is no Commission under Cover to you, in which I am named, I Shall go to the Hague, and there take up my abode for sometime. I have just recd a Letter from Willink &Co which Shews that Money is exhausted & Credit too. He incloses me his Letter to you, but I fear you will not be able to assist him.3 With great respect &c
LbC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Dr Franklin”; APM Reel 107.
1. John Paul Jones had sailed from Philadelphia on 10 Nov. on the packet General Washington, Capt. Joshua Barney, which was bound for Hâvre de Grace, France. On 1 Dec., against Barney’s protests that the British might imprison him, Jones was { 388 } put ashore near Plymouth, England, and proceeded to London (Morison, John Paul Jones, p. 337–338). In a somewhat garbled report, the London Chronicle of 6–9 Dec. noted that “on Friday Evening [5 Dec.], about nine o’clock, the celebrated Paul Jones arrived in town from Paris, with dispatches from the American Congress for his Excellency John Adams, Esq; Mr. Jones was only twenty-two days on his passage from Philadelphia to France; and after delivering his dispatches on Friday evening, he set out the next morning at three o’clock for Paris, to proceed from thence to America.” For Jones’ mission to Europe, see the instructions to the commissioners of 29 Oct., above.
2. The president of Congress’ letters to JA and the commissioners are both at 1 Nov., above. But see also his letters of that date to Francis Dana, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and Henry Laurens in Smith, Letters of Delegates, 21:130–132, 134–135. For the content of the packet sent on to Franklin, see Franklin’s reply of 10 Dec., below. JA forwarded the letters to Jay and Laurens, then at Bath, with his letter to Jay of 7 Dec., below.
3. The consortium’s letter of 2 Dec., above.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0195

Author: Dalton, Tristram
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-12-05

From Tristram Dalton

[salute] Dear Sir

By two Gentlemen who went in Ships bound for London, and of whose arrival in that City accounts are received, I had the pleasure of writing your good Self under the 16th July—& 8th August 83, both which Letters I hope reached you safe, and found you in health— As far as time or observation permitted, I gave a sketch of the politics in this Government—and wish the present day afforded a better prospect—it does not— the Affairs of the Continent wear a gloomy face, owing, in a very considerable degree, to the almost total deficiencies of the several States, in supplying the public Chest, agreeably to the principles of the Confederation; which makes it necessary for Congress to recommend new modes, that create Jealousies—. it has ever appeared to me a selfevident truth, that to preserve their freedom and independence, the several States should immediately, and they were able, in their own way, have complied with the requisitions of Congress, which were founded on Calculations to which no reasonable objections could be made— beside doing justice to public Creditors, and thereby supporting establishing & of course extending public faith, this mode of proceedure would have stifled the Clamours of domestic sufferers—and stopped the Mouths of our internal, who I may almost say are our infernal, Enemies— Had the several States done this, it is probable that Schemes of ambitious men, now too apparent, would have slept in their bosoms—or perhaps never would have been known by the Possessors that they had them— indeed I cannot help entertaining so charitable an opinion of Mankind, as to suppose, the follies and carelessness of the many first suggest to Knaves the benefit that may { 389 } accrue to themselves by the exercise of their cunning— I ask pardon for detaining You a moment with any reflection of my own— especially as your extensive acquaintance with Men & Things may prove to the contrary—proceding to give you some account of the transactions of the G Court in their last Session—and of some public Movements in Congress which may prove of the greatest importance—
The Sessions lasted from the 24th Septr to the 28th. October— Supplying the federal Chest was the object which called the attention of all— the Recommendations of Congress were frequently read—canvassed—condemned—approved—the impost bill, referred over the preceding session, of which I gave you a full account the 16 July; taken up—laid by—the subject proposed to be taken up de novo—a Committee of both houses appointed to prepare a new bill— the proceedings in every Stage blocked by Gentn. on account of the Estimation of the public debt containing an article of 8 million dollars to pay the Commutation of the halfpay promised the Officers of the army— at length it was made a serious Question, in the House, whither any Clause relative to the Commutation or half Pay should be inserted in the bill—which, after a long & warm debate, was determined, by Yeas & Nays, in the negative— thus this point which had made so much noise thro’ the Commonwealth, was settled by their Representatives—forty of whom had instructions from their constituents not to vote any Monies to Congress, without an express proviso, that no part of the same be applied to the payment of halfpay or Commutation—
After this objection was removed the house proceeded in the bill, which, after very warm debates therein, and long Altercation with the Senate, (who were, uniformly, and almost unanimously, in favor of an impost nearly conformant to the Mode prescribed by Congress) passed—but with this exception—that all tryals for offences against the act, should be had, in the usual Manner, at the Courts of Common Pleas—with Liberty of Appeal to the Supreme Judicial Court of this Commonwealth— This bill the Governor approved—it is not to be in force untill all the other States in the Union pass similar ones—and as no further provision was made by the Legislature for establishing permanent funds, to pay the Deficiencies, which was a part of the Scheme proposed by Congress, and as that Body resolved that no part should take place without the whole was adopted, it is easily seen that the passing the impost bill alone can have no good effect— indeed the Act, as it stands, may be construed { 390 } a single, unconnected, Grant—for the Zeal of the Gentn. who were opposed to payment of the Commutation, went so far as to obtain an erasement of a Clause, that referred to the resolves of Congress, upon which it was founded— if therefore the other States are as cautious to prevent any reference to the Resolves of Congress—they may accept the Grants—1
But, my dear Sir, where shall We land, if the States suffer the public Treasury to be unsupplied—what greater sport can be afforded the Enemies of these States—or what more poignant Grief given their Friends—the End being confusion and discord with every Evil attendant— Jealousies are plentifully sowed and carefully nursed—they will grow and soon become serious—from the Measure, that I am informed, Congress has in Contemplation—nothing less than a Peace Establishment.2 It is doubted by some few in Congress, whither the Articles of Confederation give a Right to them to make such an Establishmt— If they do contain such a right, can it be prudent, nay can it be safe, to attempt the Exercise of it— Will our Northern Brethren even listen, without indignation, to the proposal of a Standing Army in time of Peace—certainly no— what commotions will rise, instanter, if the Measure is adopted— The Necessity of guarding our frontiers & maintaining our out posts by regular forces, will be a flimsey excuse to the common Sense of these Inhabitants— And yet this Measure is warmly espoused by many Gentn. in Congress—and I wish the attempt may not be made—
Congress are also about erecting a new State on the Ohio, back of Virginia—the Lands whereof are to be given to the Officers in Lieu of Commutation, & other promises—which if, as is probable, people of the military profession should settle, would greatly assist the Designs of a few Men, who it is frequently said are aiming to establish an oligarchical Government—that despairing to effect their Schemes by unnoticed Art & Design, they are endeavoring to heave all into Confusion from whence may be expected the Loss of Liberty.3 I am sorry to find it the opinion of the real friends of this Country, as of the aforegoing description, that our present Confederacy cannot long subsist— This great difference in their conduct is evident— While the former wish to see a sudden & violent dissolution take place, the well disposed aim at enlightning and awakening the Minds of the People—that another more perfect System of Confederacy may be easily slid into & adopted— I dread the Consequences, as it respects the views of other Nations and our internal Peace— if these States should ever be severed, and their Union put { 391 } afloat, must we not expect every advantage will be taken by foreign Powers?— will not the easiness, with which we may become a prey, induce the attempt, and shall we not, in the End, find ourselves in the situation of Poland—the Subjects of different Monarchs—?.
It is universally said Congress, have not sufficient Powers— whatever internal Power they may want, sure I am that their external Powers are ample— I never heard those spoken of as deficient— Now pray, Sir, what powers can be given Congress for the good of their Constituents—which can be exercised on a free people—are not the difficulties unsurmountable that must attend coercion— if Seizure of Property belonging to the Inhabitant of any deficient State, after forms prescribed have been observed, should be permitted, will it not tend to the ruin of the trade of that State, as the mercantile is the only interest, almost, which may be found out of the State—and the property within would not be easily taken—
I trouble you, my dear Sir, with many Questions, which I cannot expect answer’d in a Letter—and were You present I should trouble you with many more—for I really want your good Advice, especially as I am in a public Line— Your Country wants your Counsels— This Commonwealth wishes the Opportunity of paying that respect to Merit which I hinted in a former Letter—4 This Week I am informed that Governor Hancock intends resigning the Chair— I think the next Session will have his resignation—5
I am sorry to have the occasion to tell you that Governor Trumbull has asked Leave to resign his Office next Spring—having, in an elegant and affectionate Address, left his wholesome Advice—and ardent prayers— He assigns, as the Cause of his Wishes to retire, the infirmities of Age, being 74 years old— perhaps, Washington Like—he pants for a private Life—having filled his Station with a proportionable Eclat— it is said however that the public confusions with which the State of Connecticutt is threatned, from the Power which the lower Orders of People have possessed themselves of, blindly led by groveling ambition, is the real Cause of this worthy Magistrates’ resignation—and that, from the same reasons, will follow that of a Number of his best Councellors—6
When I look on the paper I have scrabled, Friendship almost trembles at the fear of trespassing— Should my intelligence be of the least Service or Gratification to you I regret not the time it cost me or if you’ll please to accept the Design, pardoning the deficiencies, as a small token of my Affection, I shall be happy—
Flattering myself with hopes that the present Easterly Winds may { 392 } waft me a Line from you, I remain with the greatest possible Sincerity / Dear Sir, / your unalterable Friend / & obliged hble Servant
[signed] Tristram Dalton
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Hnble, J Adams Esqre.
1. In this letter, which JA received on 1 May 1784 and answered on the 2d (Adams Papers), Dalton provides an accurate description of the actions of the Mass. General Court in its consideration of the ratification of the five percent impost. The house of representatives voted on 17 Oct. against a motion to bar the use of impost revenues for the half-pay of Continental Army officers. The bill was enacted on 20 Oct., with the proviso that the Massachusetts ratification was contingent upon approval by all states. The states did not agree to the impost and it never went into effect (AFC, 5:288–289).
2. George Washington’s call earlier in the year to create a standing federal army was rejected by Congress, and the Continental Army was disbanded on 18 October. The need for troops to protect frontier settlers prompted Congress to debate the commissioning of a new federal army in May and June 1784, but the opposition of Massachusetts delegates and others resulted in the defeat of the measure. Congress instead voted to patrol frontier posts with soldiers drawn from the militias of Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania (Carl Benn and Daniel Marston, Liberty or Death: Wars that Forged a Nation, N.Y., 2006, p. 185; JCC, 25:703; 27:428–435, 518–519, 524, 530–531, 538–540).
3. On 6 Sept. 1780 Congress called for Virginia to relinquish its claim to its western territory to the federal government, and on 20 Oct. 1783 the Assembly of Virginia agreed to do so. Congress accepted a deed to the lands on 1 March 1784, but no new state was created until the establishment of Kentucky on 1 June 1792 (JCC, 17:806–807, 26:112–117; AFC, 9:199–200).
4. In his letter of 16 July, above, Dalton had hinted that JA should return to Massachusetts and stand for governor.
5. Gov. John Hancock informed the General Court in December that he would resign before the end of the year. On 24 Dec. he reversed his decision without public explanation, having been dissuaded by Lt. Gov. Thomas Cushing, who counseled that resigning in midterm would harm his reputation. Hancock served as governor until Jan. 1785 and again from April 1787 until his death in Oct. 1793 (Harlow Giles Unger, John Hancock: Merchant King and American Patriot, N.Y., 2000, p. 302–305, 310, 330).
6. On 9 Oct. 1783 Gov. Jonathan Trumbull announced to the Conn. General Assembly that he would leave office in May 1784 after fourteen years of service. Trumbull cited as his reason “a life, worn out almost in the constant cares of office.” The period leading up to his departure was marked by protests by farmers opposed to taxes imposed on the state by Congress and supported by an assembly and governor with an increasingly nationalistic outlook (An Address of His Excellency Governor Trumbull, New London, Conn., 1783, p. 3, 4, 9, Evans, No. 17885; David M. Roth, Connecticut’s War Governor: Jonathan Trumbull, Chester, Conn., 1974, p. 73–76, 78). See also AFC, 5:289.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0196

Author: Dumas, C. W. F.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-12-05

From C. W. F. Dumas

[salute] Monsieur

J’ai le plaisir de remarquer, par l’honorée vôtre du 28e. Nov., que nous avons pensé & écrit l’un a l’autre le même jour. Nous sentons & partageons sincerement la joie que vous aurez d’embrasser bien-tôt Made. Adams & vos chers Enfans, que nous supposons venir aussi. Mon Epouse, ainsi que ma fille, languit de lui rendre leurs { 393 } devoirs; & la premiere s’empressera de lui remettre tous les Dépôts que vous avez laissés entre ses mains ici.
Com̃e je ne vois par votre Lettre, Monsieur, si vous resterez avec Madame tout de bon à Lahaie, ni par conséquent si vous voulez avoir l’hôtel entier à votre disposition & à la sienne au mois de May prochain, & qu’il m’importe cependant de prendre les arrangemens les moins ruineux pour trouvert un autre couvert pour nous, je vous demande en grace, Monsieur, de me faire au plutôt connoître clairement toutes vos intentions à cet égard, afin que je prenne mon parti là-dessus à votre satisfaction, & sans trop de perte & d’inconvéniens pour nous: car c’est aux environs du nouvel an, com̃e j’ai déjà eu l’honneur de vous en parler dans une autre Lettre, qu’on loue les maisons ici, pour les occuper au mois de May: alors on peut choisir ce qui convient; autrement il faut payer le double, pour être très mal à son aise
L’on est indigné ici, & l’on doit l’être aussi en france, de la raison pitoyable alléguée par le D—— de M——r à Versailles, pour ne pas finir la paix à Paris. Ils appellent cette raison une impudente fausseté; & l’on va prendre ici des résolutions en conséquence.1
Au cas que vous vous proposassiez, Monsieur, de passer l’hiver ici avec Madame Adams, souhaitez-vous que mon Epouse fasse votre provision de tourbes, pendant que les Canaux seront encore ouverts; car après cela on doit en payer cher de mauvaises. En ce cas faites-nous s. v. p. savoir combien de cent tonneaux vous en voulez.
Mr. Fagel, que j’ai vu au cercle, m’a chargé de ses complimens pour vous. Mr. De Gyzelaer, avec les siens, m’a prié de vous faite part de son union prochaine, dans 2 ou 3 mois avec une aimable Demoiselle.2
Ma famille vous présente ses respects, & bien leurs complimens à Mr. votre fils ainsi que les miens.
Je suis avec grand respect, De Votre Exce. / Le très-humble & très obéissant serviteur
[signed] C.w.f. Dumas


[salute] Sir

I have the pleasure of noting, from your esteemed letter of 28 November, that we thought of and wrote to each other on the same day. We feel and sincerely share the joy that you will experience in embracing Mrs. Adams and your dear children, who we suppose are also coming. My wife and { 394 } my daughter look forward to paying their respects to her, and the former will hurry to give to her all that you deposited here in her hands.
As I cannot tell from your letter, sir, if you are planning to reside with madame right here at The Hague, nor consequently if you want the whole house at your disposal and hers this coming May, and as it is important meanwhile that I make the least ruinous arrangements to find another dwelling for us, I ask you please, sir, to let me know clearly all your intentions in this matter as soon as possible, so that I can make my decision in this regard in a way that meets your needs, and without too much loss and inconvenience for us, because it is around New Year’s, as I had the honor of informing you in another letter, that houses are rented here for occupancy in the month of May. Then one can choose something serviceable. Otherwise you have to pay twice the price, only to be very uncomfortable.
Everyone is indignant here, as they must also be in France, at the pitiful reason put forward by the Duke of Manchester at Versailles for why the peace has not yet been concluded at Paris. They call this reason an impudent falsehood, and they are going to make resolutions here as a consequence.1
If you intend, sir, to spend the winter here with Mrs. Adams, would you like my wife to acquire the peat for you while the canals are still open, because after that you have to pay a high price for poor quality. In that case please let us know how many hundreds of barrels you want of it.
Mr. Fagel, whom I saw on my rounds, asked me to send his compliments to you. Mr. de Gyselaar, while sending his own, begged me to inform you of his upcoming union, in two or three months, with a fine young lady.2
My family sends you their respects as well as their compliments to your esteemed son, and please add my own.
I am with great respect, your excellency’s very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] C.w.f. Dumas
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Londres à S. E. Mr. Adams, M. P.”
1. Following the exchange of copies of the ratified Anglo-Dutch preliminary peace treaty, the Duke of Manchester informed the Dutch negotiators, Mattheus Lestevenon van Berkenrode and Gerard Brantsen, that Britain wished the negotiations for the definitive treaty to be held at either London or The Hague rather than Paris. The British diplomat gave no reason for the change, although it may be surmised that it was to be rid of any French influence on the negotiations. In Jan. 1784, following the lead of the States of Holland, the States General refused to agree to the British proposal, since it already had ministers at Paris (Gazette d’Amsterdam, 9 Dec. 1783, 6 Jan. 1784; Dipl. Corr., 1783–1789, 3:478).
2. Cornelis de Gyselaar married Catharina Geertruida Heerega at The Hague on 1 Feb. 1784 (Nieuw Ned. Biog. Woordenboek, 10:309–310).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0197

Author: Holtzhey, Jean George
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-12-05

From Jean George Holtzhey

[salute] Your Excellency!

About three month ago I receved a fine silver medal out of Your name from a gentleman Who came from Paris, on the independency of your Illustrious Republiq,1 at same time was informed that your Hon. was soon Expected here which was true, but i disovered it too late i there fore take this opportunity to return you may hearthy thanks for satisfaction you have done me, is also for the attention you pay my work in Shewing it and creating admirors. is I understandy well, you desire three medals on the declaring of the independecy, and three medals on the Treaty of friendship and Comerce between our States and your Illustrious Republic2
These Six medals in Boxes f6.6. amont att— f.37.16— which sum shall when opportunity offerts Rec. from Mess. W— & J. Willink my very good friends.
a small silver medal with the discription and Case so as was distributed here on occasion of a patriottik treat by an un known well-meaning Faterlander, have the honor to present you this, i had kapt a small number of them, to divide them amongst some few admirors for to Compleat Cabinets amongst whom i have the Honor to reekon you,3 of the medal made by the society of liberty in friesland are none to be had4 And as yoúr Hon recommends me Mr. John Stokdale (under whose Cover i send you the medals) to dispose of my medals i dos hisitate to send him on your recomendation of Each three of the medals which i have give out since the rupture if more are required shall send ’em.
having the Honor most / Obient Humbel Servant
[signed] Joan George Holtzhey
1. This is the Libertas Americana medal by Augustin Dupré that Benjamin Franklin commissioned to honor the American victories at Saratoga and Yorktown. For a description and reproduction of the medal, see vol. 14:xiii, 344.
2. For these medals, which JA requested be sent to John Stockdale in his letter to Holtzhey of 24 Nov., see note 1 to that letter, above. Stockdale acknowledged receiving the medals in his letter of 20 Jan. 1784, below.
3. This medal has not been identified.
4. For this medal by the Société Bourgeoise of Leeuwarden, see JA’s letter to Holtzhey of 24 Nov. 1783, and note 2, above.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0198

Author: Wythe, George
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-12-05

From George Wythe

Often had I almost resolved to write to you, to supply, in some measure, by an epistolary correspondence, the want of that conversation, which I had no other cause to regret than the interruption of it by the distance between us; and had more reasons than I can enumerate to covet. But uncertainty of communication, and a doubt whether the merit of any thing I could say would be an apology for diverting your attention from affairs incomparably more momentous hitherto kept me reluxtantly silent. Your letter, therefore, by mr Mazzei, delivered to me this day, by which I learn your wish to receive a line from me, and that too whereever you be, was received with joy.1 I accept the invitation with a pleasure one feels in renewing an acquaintance with an old friend whose company was entertaining and improving. O were our habitations so neighbouring, that

—θαμ᾿ ενθα δ᾿ εοντες εμιςγομεθ᾿ ⋅ ουδε κεν ημεας

Αλλο διεκρινε ϕιλεοντε τε τερπομενω τε,

Πριν γ᾿οτε ⋅ δη θανατοιο μελαν νεϕος αμϕεκαλυψεν!

Οδυου. Δ. 1802
A letter will meet with me in Williamsburg, where I have again settled, assisting, as professor of law and police in the university there,3 to form such characters as may be fit to succede those which have been ornamental and useful in the national councils of America. Adieu.
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “G. Wythe to J. Adams.”; endorsed: “Mr. Wythe. 5 Dcer. / 1783.”
1. JA’s letter to George Wythe has not been found, but it may have been written on or about 23 June, the day on which JA wrote to Thomas Jefferson. That letter was also carried by Philip Mazzei and, like the one to Wythe, has not been found (Jefferson, Papers, 6:318). JA knew Wythe from his service in the Continental Congress, and there are numerous references to the Virginian for that period in JA, D&A. It was from Wythe’s manuscript copy that the printed version of JA’s Thoughts on Government, Philadelphia, 1776, was derived (vol. 4:65–68). But the Adams Papers Editorial Files do not record any extant correspondence prior to this letter of 5 Dec., and there is no indication that JA replied.
2. Living here we should frequently have met with each other, / nor could anything have separated us, loving and taking pleasure in each other, / until the black cloud of death shrouded us (Homer, Odyssey, Book IV, lines 178–180).
3. The College of William and Mary established the first chair of law in the United States in 1779 with the creation of the “Professorship of Law and Police.” Wythe held the position until 1790 (DAB ).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0199

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Jay, John
Date: 1783-12-07

To John Jay

[salute] Dear Sir

The night before last, Commodore Jones arrived, with Dispatches from Congress. Two Packets were directed to the “Ministers,” and one larger one to Dr Franklin. The two first I opened. one of them contained nothing but News Papers,. The other contained, a private Letter from the President and a Sett of Instructions to the Ministers for Peace. These I copied, and Sent on the originals to Passy, together with the Packet to Dr Franklin, unopened.1
If it is found to contain a Comn. to Us, in conformity to the Resolution of the first of last May the Doctor will inform Us by the first Post if not by Express.
In the meantime, I wish to consult with you, if it were possible upon our new Instructions, which chalk out Some new Business for Us. I would Send you a Copy of them, if I were not afraid of ministerial Curiosity. Mr Bingham makes me think you will be Soon here.
I inclose herewith a Letter from the President to you and another to Mr Laurens, which I must beg the Favour of you to deliver to him, as I dont know his Address.2
Mifflin is the new President, and Congress have adjourned to Anapolis, and are to Set after sometime, one Year, at George Town upon Potomack and one Year on the Delaware. Coll Ogden had Arrived, with the News of the Signature of the definitive Treaty: But Thaxter had not in the first Week in November.
Barneys destination is Havre de Grace, and his orders are positive to Sail in three Weeks, for Philadelphia.
Mr Morris has drawn So many Bills upon my Bankers in Amsterdam, that a Number have been protested for Non Acceptance: So that if Mr Grand cannot assist in preventing the Protest for Non Payment the Catastrophe must now come.— This you will not mention at present.
With great Esteem, I am yours
[signed] John Adams
RC (NNC:Jay Papers); internal address: “Mr Jay”; endorsed: “Recd 8 Decr. 1783” and “Mr Adams / 7 Decr. 1783 / recd. 8 / ansd. 9 / Decr. 1783.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 107.
1. See JA’s letter to Benjamin Franklin of 5 Dec., above, and Franklin’s reply of the 10th, below.
2. For these letters of 1 Nov., see Smith, Letters of Delegates, 21:134–135.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0200

Author: Osgood, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-12-07

From Samuel Osgood

I should have done myself the Pleasure of writing to you before this Time; But since Joining Congress, we have been in an unsettled Posture.— little other Business has been done than that of determining a Place, or Places, for the future Residence of Congress.— The Discussion of these Questions bro’t into view many others, of great Importance.— The Decissions of Congress, you are undoubtedly acquainted with, respecting their future Residences.— But you may probably be uninform’d, as to the Motives & Reasons, that operated in the Minds of the Delegates of several of the States, to agree to Measures, that seem to be attended with no inconsiderable Inconveniency on several Accounts.— They are such, as have made the Measure unpopular to all those, who are not capable of discerning the absolute Necessity of placing Congress in a Situation, that will have the greatest Tendency to make them a free & independent Body—& it is more especially disagreeable to those who have long had a settled Plan of placing Congress in a Situation, where it would be morally impossible that they should not be fettered & shackled with an Influence, that would absolutely controul all their Measures.—
The Simplicity of the first Class, will operate powerfully in Support of the second, who, possess’d of no small Share of Cunning & Address, will use all their Endeavors to keep out of Sight, the true Reasons of the Measure, & at the same Time place it in such a Point of Light, as to create strong Prejudices against it in the Minds of the uninformed & unthinking Part of the Society, who are too apt, for the Sake of a little present Relief, to reject Plans that would have a Tendency to secure to them very great future Advantages.—2
When Ignorance & Cunning are combined, as is frequently the Case, against wise & politic Measures, hard is the Task of the Man, who is honestly endeavoring to oppose the Systematical Intrigue of a few, by Reasons of public Utility & Propriety.— This may be the Situation of those Members of Congress, who have supported the Propositions for two permanent Places, at which the Residence of Congress shall be alternately equal.— The Objections against it are easily adduced, & of such a Nature as will at once make sensible Impressions upon the Popular Party: or rather those who do not look beyond the present Day, nor consider the Necessity of securing { 399 } to Posterity the Blessings which are at their Disposal.— There are several Weighty Reasons to support the late Decissions of Congress.— It was necessary to accommodate the several Parts of the Continent, some of which were greatly agitated, & dissatisfied with the first Determination of Congress.— It was necessary in Order to destroy Systems, which would finally have ended in absolute Aristocracy—the Effects of which have been too apparent for several Years past— It would not have been possible, that Congress should ever have been a free & independent Body in the City of P——a.— Plans for absolute Government, for deceiving the lower Classes of People, for introducing undue Influence, for any Kind of Government, in which Democracy has the least possible Share, originate, are cherished & disseminated from thence.—
With Respect to accommodating the several States in the Union, it is a Matter of absolute Necessity.— The seven eastern States may, by the Iron Hand of voting, carry the Seat of Congress much more Northward than it really ought to be, & accommodate themselves very well— But it is unnatural to suppose that the southern States would chearfully submit to such a Decission; they openly declare that they cannot, & will not; & as a fœderal Town cannot be erected without their Concurrence; the final Event must have been, that Congress would have again fallen into the City of P——a, & there remained, until the several States for Want of Confidence in them, should have voluntarily put an End to their Existence; which, without pretending to have the Gift of Prophesying, one might easily foresee would not be a very distant Period.— As to the Matter of travelling one or two hundred Miles farther, it is of no Weight—The Climate has some—But if Congress can dispatch all their Business in the Fall & Winter, which they certainly may do in future, our pointed Objection against a southern Climate will not exist at those Seasons of the year.— I am therefore fully of the Opinion that public Harmony & Concord are Objects of no small Consequence in the Union & that private Inconvenience ought always to give Way to them.—
That Systems of Intrigue & Influence have been laid, that they are too strongly rooted already, is but too well known to those who have had a Share in public Business for these several Years past.— A Recital of the various Measures & Manœuvres, that tend to corroborate the Opinion, would be too tedious for a Letter— I need only say, that the sensible Part of those who are deeply engaged in the intriguing Plans, are most violent against the Decission of { 400 } Congress, respecting two Places of Residence, that they have ever since, had strongly marked in their Countenances, an evident Air of Dejection.— their unexpected disappointment seems to have irritated them much, & we must be prepared to meet a Torrent of Abuse & many scurrilous Observations.— The Prostitutes to Influence are capable frequently of making the wrong seem to be Right— But with a Jealous, well informed People, Truth will prevail; & there is little Danger of their condemning honest, well meant Endeavors to serve them.—
The System of Influence began, when the United States were reduced to the most deplorable Situation, on Account of their Finances; when the virtuous Spirit of the People began to Subside, & when among many an Indifference to the Cause began to be too manifest— At this fatal Moment the eagle eyed Politican of our great Ally, discovered the absolute Importance of the Aid of his Master, & the critical Situation of the United States.—3 It was then he ventured to propose that Congress should subject their Peace Commissioners to the absolute controul of a foreign Court. It was then found to be necessary to establish Ministers of State, a Financier, a Secretary at War, & a Secre[tary] for foreign Affairs.— It was necessary to place Congress in a Situation before the Close of the War that the Members of that Body, excepting a chosen few, should know little or nothing of the Negociations abroad— It was necessary to create an Office of foreign Affairs, & that the Chevalier & his Secretary should be the Persons behind the Scene to manage & direct all the Measures t[here]of.— In the Beginning of the year 1781 Congress found themselves extremely embarass’d—they had no Money, nor any Credit—the southern States were some of them abandonned to, & others of them overrun by the Enemy— The Delegates from those States found it impractible for the eastern States to afford them much Assistance; & some from Despair of other Means, & others probably from less virtuous Motives, agreed to give up the united States to foreign Power, perswading themselves & endeavoring to perswade others, that disinterested Benevolence alone, was the Principle from which that Court always acted.— All Hommage was due & it became Treason to speak, think or even look, as if one suppos’d it possible that she should do us an Injury, or act from interested Motives.— The Weakness & the Wickedness of the southern States placed the united States in a most humiliating Situation, opend the Door of Intrigue, which has been disclosing more & more every Year since— I have no Doubt their Object was to { 401 } s[erve] their own Country; & for this Purpose, they became humble devo[ted] Worshippers of the golden Image—and every Person that did not flatter, & dance attendance as much as they, was immediately set down as having a contracted, illiberal Mind.—4 Attention and a smile elated the one Party, whilst a cold formal Reception & often a pointed Neglect, mark’d evidently the point of Light in which the other was viewed.—
In this Situation was Congress, when the great Officers of State commenced— The Financier & Secretary for foreign Affairs were admirably well adapted to support, & not only so, but to become the principal Engines of Intrigue— The first mentioned Officer, is a Man of inflexible Perseverance— He Judges well in almost all Money Matters; & mercantile Transactions— He well knows what is necessary to support public Credit— But never thinks it necessary to secure the Confidence of the People, by making Measures palatable to them— A Man destitute of every Kind of theoretic Knowledge; but from extensive mercantile Negociations, he is a good practical Merchant; more than this cannot be said with Justice.— He Judges generally for himself; & acts with great Decision— He has many excellent Qualities for a Financier, which however do not comport so well with Republicanism, as Monarchy.— Ambitious of becoming the first Man in the united States, he was not so delicate in the Choice of Means, & Men for his Purpose, as is indispensably necessary in a free Government— The good Ally of the United States could assist him in Money, & he was heartily dispos’d to make her very grateful Returns— The United States abound with Men absolutely devoted.— With such a Financier and with such Materials, it is easy to conceive what an amazing Power he would soon acquire.— He stood in need of foreign Support, & they stood in need of him; thus far the political Machinery was in Unison; & republicanism grated harsh Discords.—
The Secretary for foreign Affairs was a Man of more acquired Knowledge, & less natural Ability—A Person as completely devoted to promote all the Views & Wishes of our good Ally, as his Minister & Secretary could possibly be.— His Office was mestireous, & secret to all those, who ought to have a perfect Knowledge of all it contain’d— It was undoubtedly public to all those, to whom it ought to have been a profound Secret— Two foreigners were private Secretaries in that Office; one of which it is probable was <a Disciple of the Sorbonne> educated a Jesuit—the other had been a french Priest.—5 With this Arrangement, it is impossible to suppose that any Thing of { 402 } Importance, would not be communicated immediately to such as the Interest of the united States required, should not know it.— More real Injury resulted from this Arrangement, than could possibly have done, if there had been no Office & no pretended Secrets.— It was a Snare to our faithful foreign Ministers, & a secure Asylum, to such as were dispos’d to prostrate the Honor & Dignity of the United States, before the polluted Shrine of Monarchy. In this Situation it was impossible to support an honest Man; All our foreign Ministers, excepting one, have felt very severely the Effects of this unaccountable System.— It is strange that so many, who seem to be republicans, were so easily drawn into the Snare, & that they either could not, or would not see, that it was giving up at once, all the Priviledges for the Preservation of which we had freely lavish’d our Blood & Treasure.—
It was fortunate for the United States, that the Secretary at War, was a true Republican, & totally oppos’d to Intrigue & aristocratical Measures—had Genl. Schuyler, who nearly carried the Choice, been plac’d in that Office, It is a great Question in my Mind, whether it would have been practicable for Congress, to have disbanded their Army.—6 The Financier only wanted a Person in that Office who would go any Lengths with him: a Number of Officers as well as Citizens were ripe for the Measure— It had undoubtedly been deliberately digested—And the Finance Office was probably the Center of Motion.— I am well informed that an Attempt was made to draw in the late Secretary at War—But he checkd it, with a Firmness, that will always do him Honor.— such a Triumvirate, would have been too powerful for the United States; & Heaven only knows what Kind of a Form our fœderal Government would have assum’d.— The present, by that Party, is held in the utmost Detestation, & they will persevere inflexibly in their Attempts for any Alteration, by Intrigue, & by open Force, when Matters are matured, & promise more Success, than at present.—
These Plans, in which our good Allies, were undoubtedly more than idle Spectators, originated in the Beginning of the Year 1781 & operated fully before the End of the Year.
Having given you a general View of the prevailing politics of Congress at that Time, I hope it will not be altogether useless to communicate to you, as far as my Memory serves me, The Reasons that were urged in Support of several important Decissions of Congress respecting our foreign Ministers.— The first took Place in June 1781 a few Days before I Join’d that Body.— It respected your { 403 } Commission for Peace— The Business was all matured before I arrived, therefore I am not well able to say, what suggested to Congress the Idea of an Alteration— However I had not to look any farther, to satisfy myself, after I had perused the several Letters that pass’d between you & the C. de V——s respecting the Resolutions of Congress of the 18th. of March 1780; & also the Publication of your Commission, for a commercial Treaty with great Britain.—7 That you might be restricted as to the free exercise of your own Judgment, If Nature had not made you servile & submissive, it was expedient that you should pointedly instructed— I find by the secret Journals, that after a New Instructions were made out for you alone, before the final Completion, the Report was recommitted, with Directions to the Committee to confer with the Chevalier.— I find the Committee reported to Congress several Amendments propos’d by him, the most material of which was “and you are ultimately to govern yourself by the Advice of the Minister of his most Christian Majesty.” &ca— The Amendments were all said to be carried in the affirmative; the yeas & nays on the above Clause, shew that there were but Eight States in Favor of it— And it has always been a Question whether the Instructions were valid, as nine States never agreed to them & the Confederation requires the Assent of nine States, on all Questions relating to Treaties.— But it was not sufficient to let it rest here; A Treaty of Peace was a very important Matter to the united States; too much so, to be committed to any Individual.— Two great Objects in that Treaty, would be, the Fishery & western Territory: & local Views might operate too powerfully in the Mind of a single Person: He would certainly urge that most, which would be most beneficial to the Part of the Continent from which he might happen to be taken.— The Ultimata with Respect to the Limits of the united States agreed upon in 1778 or 1779 being repeated,8 there was some Reason, why there should be more than one Peace Commissioner, Indeed there would have been a very good Reason for it, considering the general Terms of the last Instructions, had not that humiliating Clause been inserted, which made all our Peace Commissioners a mere Cypher. The Names of those Commrs. who nobly dared to act contrary to the Intention of that inglorious Restriction will be immortalized, by every true American.— Congress having agreed upon five Commissrs.—The infamous Instructions made out for you, were adopted verbatim for the five—And the Objectionable Parts were warmly debated again in Congress.— However Eight States agreed to them; & it is a very great Misfortune at this Time, that we { 404 } cannot from the Journals, show that there were no more the Yeas & Nays not being call’d. That there were no more, I am sure as an Individual, having the Names of the Persons who were willing to submit their dearest Interests to Judges deeply concern’d in the Decision.— It was objected at the Time, that Eight States were not competent to pass such Instructions & that the Articles of Confederation invested no Power in Congress by which they could make a foreign Court the Arbiter of Peace [&] War for the united States.— I have as yet no Reason to alter my Opinion, which is, that both were unconstitutional. To make War nine States are necessary: but the Confederation is not as explicit respecting the making of Peace— It is held by some, that seven States only are necessary—& some who assisted in framing the Confederation, say, that this was the Idea of the Framers— But an Idea so replete with Inconsistency, seems to me Inadmissable.— The Purport of Instructions, which containd those degrading Restrictions you are fully acquainted with; but by what I have colle[cted] from Mr. T——r,9 you are not so fully acquainted with some Endeavors in Congress to procure a Repeal of those Objectiona[ble] Parts.— After the C. de— V——s was made acquainted with the unbounded Confidence, that Congress by those Instructions placed in the Ministers of his most Christian Majesty, he wrote to Congress, in the Name of his Master, a Letter expressing the Satisfaction that the Confidence gave, & the Moderation that would be discovered in the Use of the Power; that all his Exertions would be to promote the Welfare of his Ally.— But intimates, that he has been informed that the Measure was not unanimously agreed to in Congress.— And that if the Want of unanimity is likely to produce any Division in Congress, that may tend to destroy the Union & Harmony of that Body, he would willingly relinquish a Deposit, so delicate in its Nature, & of such great Importance— He suggests the fresh Obligations his Master is laid under, by this confidential Commission, to render every possible Service to the United States— But if Congress should see fit to withdraw the Power, the Obligation will be lessened, & the United States must in Consequence thereof, be particularly attentive to their own Interests— The Meaning of which, needs no Comment.— If I do not misremember the above is nearly the Purport of the Letter.— Notwithstanding this, in the Space of fifteen Months, three several Attempts were made in Congress, to revise & alter those Instructions, But to no Purpose.— Those who severely reprobated them, were not clear, that it was expedient to withdraw them. It had become a Matter of { 405 } Delicacy, & the Situation of the United States, was not so happy, as to encourage them to do an act that would probably wound the feelings, if not give great Offence to the C. de. V——s— I am not uneasy now, that the Power was not withdrawn— I am happy that the Intention of the Instructions were gloriously eluded.—
I have Reason to beleive, that those Members who warmly supported the Measure at first, have been made to fear the Resentment of the united States.— They have endeavored to explain to Congress the Reasons of the Measure.— They offer no better, than the extremely exhausted Situation of the Country at that Time, & the Despondency, evident from the small Exertions of all the States.— Doctor. Witherspoon has been candid enough on the floor of Congress, to hint at a better Reason, which was, your obstinate Dispute with the C. de. V.s I have always suppos’d, that the object was to clip your Wings, & make you more tame & docile; & that if they had at first adopted the Idea of having five Commissioners, they would not have made them mere Spectators.—
After the Provisional Treaty arriv’d, some were heartily pleas’d, & others discovered a Degree of Mortification— It was evident that our Commrs. acted for themselves—that they put a proper & rational Construction upon their Instructions— But it was said that they had grossly disobeyed them— That the Court of F——e must unavoidably be extremely irritated; that instead of making the most confidential & unreserved Communications to, & instead of being governed in the least by the Advice of the Ministers of his most C—— M.—— They had made, & signed a Treaty, without their Knowledge or Concurrence.—not only so they had entered into a private Stipulation with the Minister of great Britain of little or no Consequence to the United States, as pointedly against the Court of Madrid, as it was in favor of G—— B——n.— It was not only unwise to encourage G—— B——n to carry war into the Floridas, but it was an extraordinary, & unnatural Disobedience of Instructions. Our Commissioners must be immediately censured, & positively directed to communicate the secret Article; otherwise Congress would become Partners in their criminal Secrecy.— These Observations did not operate so as to ensure the Party of Success, in a censuring Resolution— It was tempered— A Proposition was made expressing the great Satisfaction of Congress in the Conduct of their Commrs. & obliquely censuring them, for that Secret Article— This was not palatable— It was then said that his most C—— M—— had instructed his Minister here, to remonstrate to Congress in severe Terms, against { 406 } the Conduct of our Commrs.; & that Congress would act wisely, to anticipate the Business— But this had no better Effect—& the Matter subsided—10 It was a Matter of Surprize and Astonishment to the Franklinites, that the God of Electricity consented to act with you secretly. However, if I might be allowed to form an Opinion, it would be, that the electrical Machine discharged itself invisibly—for where there is unbounded Confidence, surely there is no Reason for the least Reserve— He does not consider his most C—— M—— as an Ally, but as a Father to the United States whenever he mentions him it is in this Light.—
The next act of Congress of Consequence, was the recalling your Commission for entering into a commercial Treaty with G. B.11 The Debates upon this Question were not so warm, & lengthy as upon the above.— The principal Reason that was urged, for taking it from you, was that there were in Effect two Commissions for the same Purpose: It was insisted upon, that the Ministers for Peace were empowered by their Commission to make such Commercial Stipulations in a Treaty of Peace, as should be found necessary—that this virtually repealed the Commission to you— To set the Matter in a clear Point of Light, that there might be no Interference in the Negociations, that the Business might be all done in Concert, seven States revoked your Commission— These were some of the Observations made Use of at the Time— But I suppos’d then, & am more confirmed in my Opinion now, that it was a foreign Manœuvre, not merely to mortify you, but the real Intention at that Time was, to have no Commercial Treaty with G—— B——n This Sentiment prevail’d very much at that Time; And it is not destitute of warm Advocates now.— It is the same with Respect to a commercial Treaty with the Court of St. Petersburgh.— It has been too apparent, that the Court of Verseilles are very anxious to confine our Trade as much, as possible, to themselves.— It was not till some Time after this Event, that the Delegates of Masstts. in examining the Instructions to which the Peace Commrs. were referred, as containing the Expectations & Wishes of Congress, found that not a single Word respecting the Fishery, was to be found therein.— This obliged them to move for the Instruction that afterwards pass’d respecting the same—which was long before Congress, & met with an unaccountable Opposition; the Reason is probably containd in a Letter Mr. J—— transmitted to Congress.—12 It may not be useless to make some Observations upon this Letter.— It contained Sentiments which were suppos’d by some to be predominant in that Persons { 407 } Mind, before the Reception of it.— It was an unexpected & extreme Mortification to the Party—& I beleive the Secretary for foreign Affairs handed it immediately to Congress, without consulting them; for I am perswaded if he had done it, the Result would have been, that Congress should never see that Copy.— But they received it, & the only alternative was, to invalidate it— It was therefore asserted that Mr. M——s never wrote it.— he, who was soon made acquainted with it, I am informd, positively disowns it— But, say they, consider the Improbability of it— here is a Copy & a Translation too, why is not a Copy of the Original furnish’d— This Letter must have come thro British Hands, & it is a mere Peice of cunning of theirs, to decive and Prejudice our Ministers against a faithful Ally— But if it was not a Forgery—it is of little Consequence for Time has discov[ered] that the C. de V——s paid no Attention to it as he has not taken any one of the Measures pointed out in that Letter However it was thot best to beleive it a Forgery: & that Mr. J—— was unreasonably Jealous.— Many of the Party in Congress were undoubtedly very much disappointed in Mr. J—— He tho’t & acted like a wise & an independant Man; & they did not wish him to think or act himself.— It was not expected that he would take so decided a Part in favor of the Fishery, as it was said, t[hat] he once tho’t it of no considerable Import[ance] to the United States— It was therefore apprehended that you & Mr. L——s would unite in favor of them, & that the other two would not Care much about them.— It was expected that this Division would frequently happen, until Mr. J——[’s] Letters discovered him to be a faithful & cautious Minister.— a little Time before this, It was moved & debated, with as much warmth as any Question had for a long Time occasioned whether Mr. Laurens, as one of the Peace Commissioners should be suspended, until he should have informed Congress, whether he really addressd the Commons of G—— B——n in the shameful Stile of the Petition or Memorial, printed as his among the Deb[ates] of the House of Commons of G. B——n—13 If it was really his he had discovered so much Weakness, & so deeply wounded the Honor & Dignity of the United States, that he ought not on any Account to be continued in his important Trust— There was too much Truth in the Observation— But as the Members of the eastern States relied on him, to Join with you in supporting Our Claim & Right to the Fisheries, they could not consent to his Suspension, had it not been for this, he would certainly have been suspended—had they then known the decided Part Mr. J would take—& that the other would have { 408 } discovered a Degree of unexpected Flexibility in some Instances, he would have been suspended— But I conceive from very different Motives— I have no Doubt that the Aim of the Party was to weaken your Support— they only know what they meant, but this was my Opinion at the Time— It remains yet a Mistery, whether he was the real Author of that humiliating Peice, published as his.—
It was concluded by some in Congress from a Passage or two in Mr. Laurens’s Letter to them, after he first met you in Holland, that he was not well pleased with the Reception you gave him—or that you did not properly Estimate the Value of his Services, in not accepting of his Assistance in negociating a Loan.—14 I beleive some wish’d at that Time to make a Difference between you, if possible; & the systematical Junto were capable of framing here, & disseminating there, (& vice versa) what they pleas’d.— If I remember rightly the Passages hinted at, were not of much Consequence, & did not seem to be dictated by Disappointment.—
You will pardon me in candidly mentioning to you the Effects of your long Journal, forwarded after the signing of the provisional Treaty.—15 It was read by the Secretary in Congress.— it was too minute for the Delicacy of several of the Gentlemen.— they appeared very much disposed to make it appear as ridiculous as possible; several ungenerous Remarks were made upon it, as being unfit to be read in Congress, & not worth the Time expended in reading it.— The Day after it was read, the Delegates of Masstts. found on the Table of Congress your Letter addressd to J. Jackson or the Delegates— A Passage in that Letter led them to conclude that your Journal was not intended for Congress, as you mention that you had enclosed for his Perusal a Journal; & there was none enclosed.— They therefore agreed to move that the Journal might be delivered to them— This Motion soon found Opponents. It was then said that it contained Matters of great Importance, which you had not mentioned in your other Letters—but we examined your other Letters, & found all the great Matters touch’d upon, & the smaller ones omitted.— The Secretary for foreign Affairs, was sent for to know whether it came address’d to him; he produced three several Covers with your Seal, all directed to him, and the foldings corresponded to those of the Journal: after this, we let the Matter subside, as we found we should loose the Question; & also, that a Number of the Members were convinced, that there was some Mistake: nothing was said against it afterwards.— Whatever your Intentions were { 409 } respecting your Journal, it was necessary for us to take the Measure we did; & it had a very happy Effect.—
By a Letter lately received from Mr. D—— it is probable he has left the C——t of St. P—— sometime since.—16 If my Memory would serve me at this distant Day, to relate the various Manœuvres with Respect to him, it might serve to show how compleatly the System has operated here, as well as in Europe.—
Mr. Dana’s Character was fix’d as an Antigallican, from the first Letter he wrote to Congress from St. P——, after he had confer’d with the french Minister at that Court.— He wrote as an independent Man ought to— He gave his Sentiments freely upon the politicks of France. This Mode of thinking, however well founded, was very unpalatable to Congress in general. At that Time he ought not to have committed his own Tho’ts to Paper—much less ought he to have wrote so freely against Gallican Measures without Cyphers.— as Congress never received but One Copy which was either the Duplicate, or triplicate, the others must have fallen into Hands of our Ally—And consequently injure us extremely— The frequent Instances of her Generosity forbids every illiberal Sentiment— It indicates a little, contracted & Jealous Mind which would enter into the Minutæ of their Politicks, & take every Opportunity to make unfavorable Inferences from mere Appearances only.— This seem’d to be the Light in which this Letter was viewed— It was necessary therefore to point out to Mr. D—— the Line of Conduct which he ought to pursue: to let him know that Congress would not listen to any Insinuations against our great & good Ally, & to damp that Ardor which he seem’d to discover, for displaying his Ministerial Commission— A Lengthy Report was consequently made upon his Letter; the Work of John Morin Scott, in which Mr. D——’s Conduct was criticized upon unreasonably—& set in a very unfavourable point of Light— This Report could not obtain the Sanction of Congress; It was therefore referred to the Secretary for foreign Affairs, for a new Draught, which was not much less severe. It was agreed that both Draughts should be postponed, & a short Resolution was proposed, & adopted— I mention this Circumstance, because I am informed, that previous to the sending forward the Resolution, Mr. R. R. L——n forwarded one of those unauthentic Draughts; which, if true, was an unpardonable Peice of Cunning in him—for there was a Debate in Congress how those Drafts should be disposed of; & it was the Sense of Congress, that they should die.— That Mr. L——n was { 410 } capable of this, is but too evident, from many Specimens of his Disposition to Intrigue.—17 Ever afterwards, the Systematical Junto, levelled their envenomed Shafts against him Mr. D.—& however important it might be to the united States, to have a Treaty with the Empress, they preferred the Sacrifice of that Advantage, rather than that Mr. D should have the Honor of negociating that Treaty. so strong has the Current been in favor of Gallican Politicks, that I am perswaded the Party here, were mortified at your Success with the united Netherlands, & were very content with the Ill Success of Mr. Jay as well as Mr. D.—
It was long since evident that Mr. J—— & Mr. Carmichael did not agree entirely— But before it had fully opened—there was an Attempt made in Congress, to transfer Mr. C—— to the Minister at Verseilles— The Motion set forth, that his Services were no longer necessary at the Court of Madrid, & that a Secretary was necessary to the Commission at Verseilles that Mr. Carmichael be accordingly appointed to the said Commission, or to this Purport.—18 It is not the Usage to make such Appointments without a Nomination & Ballot— It was therefore objected to. The Question was divided, & agreed to, that Mr. C——’s Services were not necessary at the Court of Madrid. The Party who made the Motion were very much perplexed how to vote—for if they should agree to it & then not obtain the Transfer, they would defeat themselves— This really happened.— near two years ago, & they have been very content to let Mr. C—— continue from that time to this.—
The Marquis La Fayette has zealously interested himself in all our important Matters—he assumes the Language [of] a true born American, & is a very popular Character in the Country— But if I Mistake not he is deeply immersed in European Politicks: which are the worst that can possibly exist for America— When he last left this Country he went with an evident Design to assist our Commrs. in negociating the Peace it was pretty plainly intimated that he wish’d to be one of the Number—had he been added to them, it would not have been more extraordinary, than some other Matters that have taken Place— An Instruction however to you to consult & advise with him, was carried—19 I do not apprehend you were much the wiser for the Informa[tion] you might have obtain’d from that Quarter. few Americans are worthy to be trusted in some of the most important Concerns of the United States—& not a single Foreigner.—
Doctor Franklin has long been urging Congress to m[ake] his Grandson a Minister; his last Letter presses them on this Subject & { 411 } is accompanied with a particular Requ[est] purporting to be from the Minister of Sweden.—20 Nothing is to be feared from these Instances—for I am sure at present, that Congress will not make him a Minister; & I hope the Period never will arrive.— It is said he has served an Apprenticeship; But with such a Master, & such Examples, [he] must be tenfold the wore for it.—
The little Conversation I had with Mr. Thaxter led me to this narrative— I wish I had Time to arrange it better & not only so, but to examine our foreign Papers, from which, I doubt not that I could make many Extra[cts] that would be worthy of Communicating.—
You will I think be convinced that french Politicks have a great Ascendency among us— They have taken very deep R[oot] May Heaven finally extricate us from all foreign Intrigues.—
RC (NN:Samuel Adams Papers); endorsed “recd 5. April” and “osgood Decr 7. 1783.” Some loss of text due to a tight binding.
1. Although JA received this letter on 5 April 1784, he apparently did not send a reply until 30 June (LbC, APM Reel 107). On 9 April, however, he drafted two responses (Adams Papers), both considerably longer than that of 30 June, but neither was likely sent because his comments therein on Benjamin Franklin, the French, and perhaps Henry Laurens would have reignited the controversies that Osgood had cautioned JA to avoid.
Samuel Osgood, Harvard 1770, served in Congress from 1781 to 1784 and would be the first postmaster general under the Constitution from 1789 to 1791 (Biog. Dir. Cong.). JA had written to him on 12 April 1783 upon hearing that he was a member of Congress, resuming a correspondence that had been dormant since 1775 (vol. 14:399–401). Osgood wrote this letter in response—the most detailed and accurate account of the workings of Congress that JA had received from an ally since he had returned to Europe in 1779. The report is similar to those he received from James Lovell and Elbridge Gerry in 1779, during the interval between his first and second diplomatic missions. For more on Osgood, see Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 8, above.
2. The first page ends at this point. In his letter of [14 Jan. 1784], below, Osgood indicates that the first page was originally intended for someone other than JA, but there is no indication of who that might have been.
3. Osgood refers to the Chevalier de La Luzerne, the French minister to the United States, and his secretary, François de Barbé-Marbois.
4. Presumably a reference to Daniel, 3, and the golden image set up by Nebuchadnezzar.
5. Pierre Étienne Du Ponceau (1760–1844) and Rev. John Peter Têtard (1722–1787) were on Robert R. Livingston’s staff. Du Ponceau, who was educated by Benedictine monks at St. Jean Angely and at the Episcopal college at Bressuire in Poitou, served as Livingston’s undersecretary from Oct. 1781 to June 1783 (DAB). Têtard served in the Continental Army as a chaplain and interpreter before joining Livingston’s staff as an interpreter (Morris, Papers, 5:277).
6. When Congress created the post of secretary at war on 7 Feb. 1781, members initially considered appointing former general Philip Schuyler, a close associate of Robert Morris, who had resigned his commission in 1779 after being acquitted by a court-martial. Schuyler, however, refused to be considered for the post unless his rank was restored, and Congress turned to other candidates. After members decided that Gen. Henry Knox and Gen. Nathanael Greene could not be spared from field duties, Gen. Benjamin Lincoln was appointed to the post (same, 2:234–235).
7. Osgood refers to Congress’ decision on 15 June 1781 to create, under pressure from the Chevalier de La Luzerne, a joint commission to negotiate a peace treaty in lieu of JA as the sole negotiator (vol. 11:368–370). { 412 } The contentious correspondence between JA and the Comte de Vergennes in 1780 had two parts. In June the two men sparred over JA’s refusal to support the exemption of French merchants from the effects of Congress’ 18 March 1780 revaluation of the continental currency. Congress later commended JA for his representations regarding the revaluation (vol. 9:427–430). In July a more serious exchange took place over JA’s plans to execute his mission to negotiate treaties with Britain and his reservations about the sufficiency of French aid to the United States. This brought a cessation of correspondence between JA and Vergennes and led Congress to admonish JA, advising him to be more circumspect in his comments regarding the execution of his mission and French support for the American cause (same, p. 516–520).
8. JA’s Oct. 1779 instructions as sole peace negotiator had declared as a prerequisite to any peace treaty a northern U.S. boundary on the Great Lakes and a western boundary on the Mississippi River. As a result of pressure by the French, the June 1781 instructions to the joint commission transformed the 1779 ultimatum into a discretionary goal of the negotiation and made the sanctity of the Franco-American alliance the only prerequisite to a treaty. The change thwarted the interests of southern states that claimed land along the Mississippi and set up a regional conflict between northern and southern states. See vol. 8:185, 203; 11:374–377; JA, D&A, 4:178–183.
9. John Thaxter.
10. The separate article of the Anglo-American peace treaty negotiated by the American commissioners without France’s knowledge would have set the boundary of West Florida farther north if Great Britain recovered the territory from Spain than if it was retained by Spain. On 19 and 21 March 1783 motions were made in Congress to disclose the contents of the article to France, an effort that was dropped when news of the definitive treaty reached the United States on 24 March. The separate article was not included in the preliminary treaty as ratified by Congress (vol. 14:23, 108–109, 364, 437–438). See also the commissioners’ letter to Livingston, 18 July, and note 3, above.
11. On 12 July 1781 Congress revoked JA’s 1779 commission to negotiate a commercial treaty with Great Britain, an issue to which he would refer frequently in the coming years. After a 5 Feb. 1783 letter from JA seeking an explanation and appealing for new powers, Congress passed a resolution on 1 May empowering the American commissioners to negotiate a commercial agreement. Instructions were never issued, however, and it would not be until 7 May 1784 that the commissioners would be assigned powers to negotiate commercial treaties with 23 nations, including Great Britain. See vol. 11:380, 435; 14:244.
12. Osgood alludes to John Jay’s 18 Sept. 1782 letter to Livingston in which Jay enclosed Barbé-Marbois’ 13 March intercepted letter to Vergennes. In that letter, which Barbé-Marbois falsely claimed was a forgery, La Luzerne’s secretary suggested arguments Vergennes might use to thwart U.S. claims to the Newfoundland fisheries. See vol. 14:47, 496. Livingston responded to Jay on 30 Dec. discounting the intercepted letter, seeking information on its origin, and questioning Jay’s motivation for sending it. In a 22 July 1783 letter to Livingston, Franklin also commented on the Barbé-Marbois letter, calling its British source “a suspicious channel” of transmission and expressing certainty that despite the letter the French wished the American commissioners to be unconstrained in their pursuit of peace (Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 6:175, 581).
13. On 20 Dec. 1781 Edmund Burke, at the behest of Laurens, had petitioned the House of Commons on Laurens’ behalf. Burke characterized Laurens as a reluctant patriot and noted his failing health, owing to the privations suffered since becoming a prisoner in the Tower of London following his capture on 3 Sept. 1780. The petition was printed in the Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser of 22 Dec. 1781, and Laurens was paroled from the tower on the 31st. He traveled to the Netherlands to consult with JA in April 1782 and was released from bail on the 26th (Laurens, Papers, 15:xxxvi–xxxvii, 456–458).
In a letter of 30 May 1782, Laurens declined his appointment as a member of the joint peace commission (same, 15:518–526). On 17 Sept., Congress reaffirmed Laurens’ appointment, resolving that the reasons for it remained and that “his services in the execution of that trust cannot be dispensed with” (JCC, 23:584). But controversy soon { 413 } erupted, principally owing to questions concerning Burke’s petition and Laurens’ part in its presentation. On 19 Sept., James Madison offered a resolution to the effect that the portion of Congress’ resolutions of the 17th relating to Laurens should not be sent. Madison charged that if Laurens had signed or played any role in the petition then “he had thereby wounded the honor and dignity of the United States in such a manner that he was no longer fit to be entrusted with the character of a public minister, much less to be solicited to continue his services as the negotiator of a peace.” In the end, after considerable debate, Madison’s motion failed of adoption. But as Osgood, who voted against the motion, indicates, doubts remained about the petition and Laurens’ loyalty (Smith, Letters of Delegates, 19:182–192).
14. In his 30 May 1782 letter to the president of Congress reporting on his visit with JA in the Netherlands, Laurens wrote that he was rebuffed in his offer to assist in the negotiation of a loan. At their first meeting JA welcomed his offer of assistance, Laurens said, but in the second meeting he told him that all necessary steps had been taken and there was nothing further to do (Laurens, Papers, 15:522).
15. In his 30 June 1784 reply to this letter (LbC, APM Reel 107), JA indicated that the dispatch of his “Peace Journal” to Livingston rather than Jonathan Jackson was the result of a hasty, last-minute decision. He would later call it an error or an inadvertence. In fact the dispatch of the journal to Congress was probably owing to his desire to have his own account available to compete against those of his colleagues Franklin and Jay. The journal’s candor in describing the negotiations initially prompted criticism when it was read before Congress, but its ultimate effect on JA’s role as peace negotiator was negligible (vol. 14:xviii–xx; JA, D&A, 3:41–43).
16. Francis Dana wrote Livingston on 8 and 17 Aug. 1783 to inform him that he had terminated his attempts to be recognized by the Russian court and would soon leave St. Petersburg. Dana arrived in Boston on 12 Dec., five days after Osgood wrote this letter (Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 6:636, 655–658, 739).
17. In a 15 Sept. 1781 letter to the president of Congress, written soon after his arrival in Russia, Dana reported that the Marquis de Vérac, French minister to Russia, had advised him that the Russian court was unlikely to receive him until after an Anglo-American peace treaty was signed and that he should consequently not seek to present his credentials. Dana initially rejected the advice and questioned Vérac’s motives in giving it: “He possibly may have other reasons for his opinions, which he chooses to keep to himself; but surely such can not serve as rules by which to regulate my conduct while I remain ignorant of them, nor can I imagine it to be my duty or the expectation of Congress that I should blindly fall into the sentiments of any man, especially when I think this backwardness to give proper support to our cause at the courts of Europe may be accounted for on other principles” (Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:684–685, 711). Dana expressed similar views in a letter to JA of [8 Sept.] (vol. 11:478–482).
Dana’s letter reached Congress on 15 March 1782 and was apparently among dispatches from foreign ministers referred to a committee composed of James Madison, John Morin Scott, and Daniel Carroll. In a 23 April letter to Edmund Randolph, Madison made his view clear, calling Dana’s plan to present his credentials over the objections of Vérac a “rash step.” Livingston shared Madison’s view and on 27 May asked Congress to review the draft of a letter to Dana dated 10 May in which he called Vérac’s advice “sound and just” and directed Dana to follow it. Consideration of the letter was postponed, however, in favor of the passage of a resolution instructing Dana not to present his credentials “untill he shall have obtained satisfactory assurances that he will be duly recd. and recognized in his public Character.” Livingston’s letter was ordered returned to him without comment, but after receiving it, the secretary sent Dana a new letter, dated 29 May, enclosing the 10 May draft and the resolution (Madison, Papers, Congressional Series, 4:180–183, 274–275; JCC, 22:140–141, 301; Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 5:411–414, 446–447).
18. Livingston on 9 May 1782 recommended that William Carmichael be removed from service under Jay at the Court of Madrid and placed in Paris as secretary to Franklin. Congress agreed to the measure on 10 July, but Carmichael never left Madrid. From June 1782, when Jay himself departed { 414 } for Paris, until June 1794 Carmichael served as U.S. chargé d’affaires in Spain (Madison, Papers, Congressional Series, 4:279, 282; JCC, 22:258, 307, 380; DAB).
19. On 23 Nov. 1781, just before the Marquis de Lafayette departed the United States for France, Congress resolved “that the secretary of foreign affairs acquaint the ministers plenipotentiary of the United States that it is the desire of Congress that they confer with the Marquis de la Fayette.” Lafayette carried a letter from Livingston to JA enclosing the resolution and forwarded it to him upon arrival. JA politely acknowledged receipt on 20 Feb. 1782 but declined to engage in meaningful consultation. In a 16 April 1783 letter to James Warren, JA called Lafayette “an amiable Nobleman” but one who harbored “seeds of Mischief to our Country if We do not take Care” and labeled Congress’ order “ill judged” and “an humiliation” to the American peace commissioners (JCC, 21:1134–1135; vol. 12:76, 77, 248–249; 14:417–418).
20. Osgood refers to Franklin’s letter to Robert R. Livingston of 22 July in which he recommended that Congress appoint William Temple Franklin the U.S. minister to Sweden and enclosed a letter from Baron Erik Magnus Staël von Holstein, the Swedish minister to France. Franklin renewed his appeal in his 26 Dec. letter to the president of Congress, but the younger Franklin never received a ministerial appointment (Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 6:483, 586, 746–747).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0201

Author: Jay, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-12-09

From John Jay

[salute] Dear Sir

Last night I recd. your obliging Favor of the 7 Inst. & the Letters mentioned to be enclosed with it— The one for Mr Laurens was immediately sent to his Lodgings.
The Circumstances you mention are interesting, and will afford matter for Deliberation & Comments when we meet. My Return to London will depend on one of two Things Vizt. on being satisfied that I am to expect little or no Benefit from the Waters—or (in Case of their being useful) on my having reaped all the advantage they can afford me. They have I think done me some, but as yet not much good— My Physician tells me more Time is necessary—
I perfectly approve of your not having sent me Copies of any private Papers; which is probably of the less Importance as our Commission is not yet come to either of our Hands; tho’ perhaps it may, as you observe, be enclosed in the Packet directed to Doctr. Franklin— my Letters make no mention of it.
From what I heard you say at London I had flattered myself that you intended soon to visit this Place— it is worth your seeing, and you would find it agreable—1 Be pleased to make my Compts. to your Son, and believe me to be / Your Friend & Servt.
[signed] John Jay
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “His Excelly. / John Adams Esqr. / minister plenipotentiary from the United / States of America &ca. / at Mr Stockdale’s Bookseller— / Piccadilly— / London”; internal address: “Mr Adams”; endorsed: “Bath 9. Dec 1783 / Mr Jay.”
{ 415 } { 416 }
1. In fact, JA and JQA did visit Jay at Bath. According to JQA the trip “was a pretty sudden Resolution of my Father’s.” The two left London on the morning of 22 Dec. and traveled to Oxford and then, on the 24th, went on to Bath. In his letters to Peter Jay Munro of 23 and 29 Dec. (NNMus), JQA describes in considerable detail the colleges at Oxford and the sights at Bath, including the Royal Crescent, which in 1787 AA would visit and describe in turn (AFC, 7:xvi–xvii, 447–448, 449). JQA reported seeing John Jay, Munro’s uncle, “several times. he looks better, than he did while in London and thinks the waters have done him some good.” JA apparently intended to emulate Jay and take advantage of the waters, but on the 27th he hurriedly returned to London, arriving there on the evening of the 28th. Five days later, on 2 Jan. 1784, he set off for the Netherlands (JQA to Munro, 13 Jan. 1784, NNMus). For what spurred JA’s abrupt departure, see Benjamin Franklin’s letter of 10 Dec. 1783, and note 3, below.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0202

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-12-10

From Benjamin Franklin

[salute] Sir,

I received the Letter you did me the honour of writing to me the 5th. Instant by Commo. Jones, with the Dispatches he brought. The Packet directed to me alone, contain’d only a Letter to the Magistrates of Hambourg,1 and a Diploma of Doctor of Divinity from the College at Princetown for the Reverend Mr Wren:2 No Commission, nor any Mention of it; so that it seems to have been forgotten or dropt. Perhaps our Letter which went with the Definitive Treaty may remind the Congress of it.
I received the Letter you mention from Messrs Willink & Compa. I immediately consulted Mr Grand, who brought me a Sketch of his Account with Mr Morris, by which it appeared that it was not in our Power to give Relief. I hope your Presence in Holland may be of Service3
With great Respect I have the honour to be / Sir / Your most obedient humble Servant
[signed] B Franklin
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Honble John Adams Esqe.
1. For the 1 Nov. letter from the president of Congress to the Burgomasters and Senate of Hamburg, see Smith, Letters of Delegates, 21:133. The letter proceeded from Congress’ resolution of 29 Oct. expressing its appreciation of the proposals made by the city’s representative, John Abraham de Boor, regarding the establishment of a commercial relationship between the United States and the city of Hamburg (JCC, 25:757–758).
2. Rev. Thomas Wren of Portsmouth, England, had long been associated with Benjamin Franklin in efforts to assist American prisoners of war in England. In his 22 July letter to the president of Congress, Franklin said that “some public notice should be taken of this good man” and expressed the hope “that some of our universities would confer upon him the degree of Doctor” (Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 6:588). Princeton acted at its commencement on 24 Sept., and Congress resolved on 29 Sept. to thank Wren “for his humane and benevolent attention to the citizens of these United States who were prisoners at Portsmouth.” The diploma and the resolution were enclosed with a letter from the president of Congress to Wren of 1 Nov. (Varnum Lansing Collins, The Continental Congress at Princeton, Princeton, N.J., 1908, p. 156–157; { 417 } JCC, 25:632; Smith, Letters of Delegates, 21:136–137).
3. For the consortium’s letter to Franklin, his meeting with Ferdinand Grand about it, and the 3 Dec. letters from Franklin and Grand to the consortium in reply, see the consortium’s 2 Dec. letter to JA, and note 5, above.
Although he never replied to or even acknowledged it, JA probably received this letter at Bath on 27 Dec. (from John Jay, 9 Dec., note 1, above). The crux of this paragraph is that if the financial crisis was to be resolved it was JA’s responsibility to do so. It was imperative, therefore, that JA immediately return to London and go on to the Netherlands, a decision that took on additional urgency when on the day after his arrival in London he received the consortium’s letter of 23 Dec., below, with its enclosed letters from Franklin and Grand. That this letter was responsible for JA’s decision to deal with the situation at Amsterdam himself seems at odds with his retrospective account first published in the Boston Patriot in 1812 and republished in JA, D&A, 3:151–152. There JA attributes his abrupt departure from Bath and subsequent Dutch journey to receiving “dispatches from America, from London, and from Amsterdam, informing me that the drafts of congress by Mr. Morris . . . had exhausted all my loan of the last summer . . . and that an immense flock of new bills had arrived.” But JA seems, from the distance of almost forty years, to have conflated all the dispatches, regardless of origin, received at London prior to visiting Bath (to Franklin, 5 Dec., above; to the president of Congress, 14 Dec., below). JA clearly had not received Franklin’s 10 Dec. letter when he wrote on 14 Dec. to him and the consortium, both below, indicating in each his need to know Franklin’s course of action so that he could determine his own. Nor does it seem likely that he received the 10 Dec. letter before, according to JQA, his “sudden Resolution” to visit Bath (JQA to Peter Jay Munro, 23 Dec., NNMus). Considering JA’s anxiety over the looming “Catastrophe to American Credit” (to Franklin, 14 Dec., below), it is inconceivable that he would have contemplated taking the waters if he had received the letter at London.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0203

Author: Dumas, C. W. F.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-12-12

From C. W. F. Dumas

[salute] Monsieur,

Je satisferai de mon mieux à votre desir dans l’honorée votre du 4e. court., concernant ce qui se passe sur les frontieres. Vous vous rappellerez d’abord, que l’Empereur avoit révoqué le Traité de Barriere. Selon ce Traité, qui n’a jamais été observé dans tous ses points ni d’un côté ni de l’autre, certains petits Territoires étoient cedés à la rep. près de ses Forts en Flandres en 1715 & 1718. Si vous regardez la Carte, vous trouverez l’embouchure de l’Escaut, & par conséquent la Navigation d’Anvers, fermée par les deux Forts hollandois, de Lillo au N. Est & Liefkenshoek au S. Ouest de la riviere. En suivant le rivage du coté de ce dernier fort vers le N. Ouest, vous verrez la miserable village & terre marécageuse de Doel, le tout ne valant pas, dit-on, 1000 Ducats, & qui est dans le cas de ces territoires de la Barriere. Autre fois la Garnison de Liefkenshoek enterroit ses morts dans le cimetiere de l’Eglise de ce village: Mais, depuis plusieurs années, elle enterroit dans les fossés du Fort. Au mois d’Octobre passé, un Soldat meurt à Liefkenshoek, &, sous prétexte qu’il étoit Catholique, & devoit pourrir en terre benite, le { 418 } Com̃andant le fait enterrer à Doel avec un Cortege de 30 hom̃es armés dit-on à cartouches & bayonettes. Le Bailli Autrichien allegue l’ordre de l’Empereur qui défend à touts Militaires étrangers de marcher sous les armes sur son territoire, verbalise, met arrêt sur la troupe hollandoise, qui, ne se laissant pas arrêter, retourne au Fort. Peu de jours après, Mille, tant fantassins que cavaliers de Gand, par ordre de la Cour de Bruxelles, marchent, par le territoire de la rep. c’est-à-dire, par un chemin plus long, afin de pouvoir user de représailles, & vont jetter le cadavre déterré dans les fossés de Liefkenshoek; quelques autres jours après, ils occupent aussi le fort St. Donat & quelques redoutes près de L’Ecluse en Flandres, situés Sur un semblable petit territoire en litige depuis la révocation arbitraire du Traité de Barriere.1 Ces voies de fait ont été suivies de Mémoires de la Cour de Bruxelles, remis au Ministre de la rep. à Bruxelles, d’autres présentés ici par Mr. De Reischach,2 où, entre autres, on demande satisfaction de l’insulte com̃ise par la garnison de Liefkenshoek, avec quelques insinuations doucereuses sur un accom̃odement amiable de toutes choses. Les républicains ici ne doutent pas, que cette noise n’ait été suscitée par le D—— de B. W. & par les mauvais Conseillers, tous ses créatures, qu’il a laissés au Pce. en quittant,3 & enfin par plusieurs Mines. étrangers tant ici qu’à Londres, qui forment, disent-ils, avec les Anglomanes de ce pays, une Cabale, pour détacher la Rep. de la Frce., & la rembarquer dans l’ancien systême Anglo-Autrichien.
On assure, que peu après l’occupation du fort St. Donat, &c. l’Envoyé de l’Empr. eut un Entretien avec le St——r, que celui-ci se pressa de noter par écrit, qu’il montra à quelques membres du Gouvernemt., mais qui ne fut point goûté, portant que l’Empr., dans sa réponse (encore à faire) aux propositions provisionelles de L. H. P. consentira sans doute avec plaisir à la Com̃ission proposée pour arranger les frontieres; mais que, com̃e la Gr. Br. avoit été garante du Tr. de Barre. annullé recem̃ent par l’Empr., sa M. desiroit que la rép. achevât la paix le plutôt le mieux, separémt. & sans la Fce., avec la Gr. Br., parce qu’il convenoit que celle-ci garantît aussi ces nouveaux arrangemens.— Cette anecdote a reçu depuis un degré de probabilité de plus, par la proposition du D. de Manchr. aux plenipes. de la rep. à Paris, de régler le Traité définitif séparément de la fce. soit à Lahaie ou à Londres.— Ces propositions, qui découvrent des vues hostiles dans les Cabinets de Londres & de Vienne contre la fce., n’étoient déjà nullement du goût des républicains d’ici, lorsque le 30 Nov. on reçut la nouvelle de la défaite des Angl. { 419 } aux Ind.4 or., qui, jointe à celle que les Marates ont déjà violé la paix dont les Anglois se sont tant réjouis & vantés, doit faire conclure, que ces Repns. n’auront guere de peine à maintenir leur systême, contre la cabale qui voudroit les embarquer avec l’Empr. & les Angl. contre la fce. & la Pr.; car selon une autre anecdote, des plus accréditée, le R. de P. doit avoir écrit très-sérieusement à un gd. persge. ici, pour lui conseiller de se guérir de son Anglomanie, & de rétablir une boñe harmonie entre ces rep. & lui, pour son bien & intérêt & celui de sa maison; com̃e d’un autre côté il est clair que l’Empr., passionné pour s’agrandir du côté des Turcs, doit craindre, dès qu’il sera engagé avec eux, d’avoir le R. de Pr. & la Fce. sur les bras, & par conséquent aussi indirectement cette rep., Si elle n’est rengagée dans les liens de la Gr. Br.
Voilà, pour le coup, assez de politique. Vous trouverez, Monsieur, une continuation désagréable de Stagnation dans l’Emprunt, causée surtout par celui que la Hollde. vient de résoudre en faveur de la Compe. des Indes or. de 8 millions de florins.
Agréez, Monsieur, les respects de ma famille, & permettez que nous présentions ici nos amitiés à Mr. votre fils.
Je suis avec grand respect, / De Votre Excellence / Le très-humble & très-obéissant / serviteur
[signed] C.w.f. Dumas


[salute] Sir

I will do my best to satisfy your desire expressed in your esteemed letter of the 4th of this month concerning what is happening on the frontiers. You will recall, first of all, that the emperor revoked the Barrier Treaty. According to this treaty, which was never observed in all its provisions by one side or the other, certain small territories were ceded to the republic near its fortresses in Flanders in 1715 and 1718. If you look at the map, you will find the mouth of the Scheldt, and thus navigation to Antwerp, shut by two Dutch fortresses: Lillo northeast and Liefkenshoek southwest of the river. If you follow the bank on the side of the latter fortress to the northwest, you will see the wretched village and swampy terrain of Doel, the whole of which, they say, is not worth 1,000 ducats and lies within one of those barrier territories. Formerly the Liefkenshoek garrison buried its dead in the cemetery of this village’s church but for several years has used the fortress’ ditches for burials. Last October a soldier died at Liefkenshoek, and under the pretext of his being a Catholic who had to be buried in sanctified ground, the commander had him buried at Doel by a cortege of thirty armed men, who, they say, had cartridges and bayonets. The Austrian bailiff, citing the emperor’s order forbidding all foreign military personnel { 420 } from marching under arms in his territory, placed under arrest the Dutch troops, who, refusing to be arrested, returned to the fortress. A few days later a thousand troops from Ghent, as many infantrymen as cavalry, marched by order of the Court of Brussels through the territory of the republic, that is to say, by a roundabout route, in order to retaliate, and threw the disinterred body into the ditches of the Liefkenshoek fortress. Several days later they also occupied the St. Donat fortress and several redoubts near the canal locks in Flanders, situated on a similar small territory under dispute since the arbitrary revocation of the Barrier Treaty.1 Those assaults were followed by memorials from the Court of Brussels, delivered to the minister of the republic at Brussels, and others presented here by Baron von Reischach,2 in which, among other points, they demanded satisfaction for the insult committed by the Liefkenshoek garrison, along with several honeyed insinuations about an amicable accommodation of all matters. The republicans here have no doubt that this quarrel was instigated by the Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel and by the bad advisors, all his creatures, whom he bequeathed to the prince when he left,3 and also by several foreign ministers, both here and at London, who, it is said, are forming a cabal with the Anglomanes of this country to detach the republic from France and return it to the old Anglo-Austrian system.
It is certain that not long after the occupation of the St. Donat fortress, etc., the emperor’s envoy had a meeting with the stadholder, which the latter hurried to put down in writing, and which he showed to several members of the government, but which was not to their liking. It stated that the emperor, in his response (still to come) to the provisional propositions of Their High Mightinesses, would undoubtedly consent with pleasure to the proposed commission to set the borders. But as Great Britain was the guarantor of the Barrier Treaty recently annulled by the emperor, His Majesty desired the republic to make peace with Britain as soon as possible, and without France, because it was suitable for Britain to also guarantee the new arrangements. This anecdote has since become somewhat more plausible with the Duke of Manchester’s proposal to the republic’s plenipotentiaries at Paris to settle the definitive treaty separate from France, at either The Hague or London. These proposals, which reveal the hostile views of the governments at London and Vienna toward France, were already not to the liking of the republicans here, when on 30 November news was received of the English defeat in the East Indies4 and that the Mahrattas had already violated the peace that the English so rejoiced in and boasted of. This news leads us to conclude that these republicans will not have much difficulty maintaining their position against the cabal that is trying to align them with the emperor and the English against France and Prussia. According to another anecdote from the most credible sources, the king of Prussia has written very seriously to a great personage here to counsel him to cure himself of his Anglomania and to reestablish a good harmony between this republic and himself, for his own good and { 421 } self-interest as well as that of his house. On the other hand it is clear that the emperor, passionate about expanding in the direction of the Turks, must fear, once entangled with them, having the king of Prussia and France on his hands and by consequence and indirectly also this republic, if it has not resumed its ties with Great Britain.
So, for the moment, enough politics. You will find, sir, a disagreeable continuation of the stagnation in lending, caused above all by the loan that Holland just undertook on behalf of the East India Company in the amount of eight million florins.
Please accept, sir, the respects of my family, and permit us to extend here our friendly greetings to your son.
I am with great respect, your excellency’s very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] C.w.f. Dumas
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Londres à S. E. M. Adams Min. Plenip.”; endorsed: “Mr Dumas / 12. Dec. 1783.”
1. Dumas’ account of the October events at the fortresses of Lillo and Liefkenshoek and the town of Doel, all within the boundaries of the Austrian Netherlands, is accurate and may have been derived from newspaper reports. His analysis of the origins of the conflict, particularly his assigning a role to the Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, is less so. Among Joseph II’s objectives upon assuming the throne was an end to the Dutch occupation of the barrier fortresses provided for in the 1715 Barrier Treaty and the reopening of the port of Antwerp on the Scheldt River, the navigation of which had been closed by the 1648 Treaty of Münster. In 1781—with France, Britain, and the Netherlands distracted by the ongoing war—Joseph II accomplished his first objective by unilaterally abrogating the Barrier Treaty, for which see vol. 11:308. The effort to reopen the Scheldt, however, had to await the war’s end because Joseph sought and expected French support for the undertaking. The incident at Liefkenshoek provided a pretext for Austrian action, and in the immediate aftermath the Dutch removed the officer responsible and relaxed its enforcement of its rights respecting the navigation of the Scheldt. But when the Austrians in May 1784 presented new demands and in October sought to sail their vessels to and from Antwerp, the Dutch position hardened. With an Austro-Dutch war appearing almost certain, France intervened in favor of the Netherlands. The French action, and the subsequent 8 Nov. 1785 Treaty of Fontainebleau, resolved the crisis. Although the Scheldt remained closed, the treaty confirmed the abrogation of the Barrier Treaty, returned the fortresses of Lillo and Liefkenshoek to Austrian control, and compensated Austria through additional enhancements to its sovereignty over the Austrian Netherlands (Walter W. Davis, Joseph II: An Imperial Reformer for the Austrian Netherlands, The Hague, 1974, p. 120–133).
2. Hendrik van Hop was the Dutch minister to the Austrian Netherlands. Baron Franz von Reischach was the Austrian minister to the Netherlands (Repertorium, 3:82, 266).
3. For the Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, formerly William V’s chief advisor and bête noire of the Patriot Party, see vol. 11:395. He was forced to leave The Hague in 1782 and the country in 1784.
4. The Anglo-French conflict in India ended in June 1783 when news arrived of the signing of the preliminary peace treaty in February. In the months previous, the French naval forces in the area, commanded by Chevalier Bailli de Suffren, managed in a series of battles to wrest control of the seas from the British admiral Sir Edward Hughes. This permitted Suffren to capture the British base at Trincomalee and land substantial forces at Cuddalore, thus threatening all of southern India (Mackesy, War for America, p. 494–501). Complicating the situation for Britain was the continuation of the Second Mysore War by Tipu Sahib, following the death of his father, Haidar Ali, Sultan of Mysore, in 1782. That conflict would not end until the 1784 Treaty of Mangalore, which { 422 } restored the status quo ante bellum (Karl J. Schmidt, An Atlas and Survey of South Asian History, Armonk, N.Y., 1995, p. 62). For the British the cessation of hostilities with both the French and Tipu Sahib came at an opportune time and preserved their nascent empire in India.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0204

Author: Vaughan, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-12-12

From William Vaughan

[salute] Dear Sir

On my return into the City after doing myself the pleasure of paying you my respects, I found some engagements on my hands in the line of business which will oblige me to make our excursion on Thursday or Friday instead of Wednesday. which I had mentioned to your son this Morning: If convenient & I do not hear further from you I hope I shall have the pleasure of seeing you & your Son to breakfast on Thursday or Friday about 10 Clock that we may sally forth all the Morning & to expect the pleasure of your company to dinner after the fatigues of the day.1 I could have put the questeon to you at Mr Copleys had you been less engaged: I am with great respect / Dear Sir / Your most obedt. / humble Servant.
[signed] W Vaughan
1. Neither JA nor JQA mention an excursion with William Vaughan in mid-December. However, Vaughan’s letter was of Friday, 12 December. A week later, on the 19th, JQA wrote Peter Jay Munro that “this morning I went and saw the Tower” and saw some “very rich things among which is the Imperial Crown of Great Britain; which is valued at a million Sterling.” Afterwards, JQA’s party “went to Bedlam [Bethlehem Hospital], and saw there a great Number of Fools and Madmen, but as, that is no more than what we see every day in the Street, and in Society, there is no Necessity of my giving you a detailed account of the poor wretches I saw there” (NNMus).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0205

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1783-12-14

To the President of Congress

[salute] Sir

Permit me to congratulate you, on your Election to the Chair, and to wish you and the Members of Congress in general much Satisfaction at Anapolis.2
on the Fifth of this Month, Captn Jones arrived at my Lodgings in Piccadilly, with Dispatches from the late President Mr Boudinot.— The Letters addressed to “the Ministers Plenipotentiary of the United States” I opened, And found a Set of Instructions but no Commission. Probably there is a Commission, under Cover to Dr Franklin.— Captain Jones went on to Paris the Same night.
on the Eleventh, Mr Boudinot arrived, with other Dispatches of { 423 } an older date; but these were in the Same Situation with the former. Those Letters addressed to “The Ministers[”] contained nothing but duplicates of Information recd long ago respecting the Mutiny at Philadelphia3 Wereas a larger Packet addressed to Dr Franklin, leaves room to Suppose that it contains a Commission or other Papers for Us all.— Upon Several former Occasions, Papers of Great Importance, which belonged to all “the Ministers for Peace” have been inclosed to the Address of Dr Franklin alone, and Several Inconveniences have happened in Consequence of this Irregularity, upon former Occasions. Upon this there is reason to fear, that a greater Evil may be caused by it.— I would therefore request that in future, Papers intended for “the Ministers” may be addressed to them, that when they Arrive to the Hands of one, he may open them, peruse the Contents and Send them forward to his Colleagues or go and carry them as the Circumstances may require. I shall Send off, by a private Hand the last Dispatch to Dr Franklin this day.— But must wait the return of Post, or a Courier to know the Contents. Mr Jay is at Bath waiting also returns from Paris. The Anxiety caused by this Suspence is not the worst Thing.— much prescious Time in very critical moments is lost by it.
I rejoice that I ventured over to this Island, for many Reasons— I have recovered my Health, gratified my Curiosity, and resolved Several Doubts.— I wish I could give an Account, of what I see, and hear, which would be more pleasing to my own Feelings, and more Satisfactory to Congress.— But I can find no Traces, of that Principle which was professed by Mr Oswald very Sincerely I beleive, and by the Ministry who imployed him in making Peace.— the Principle I allude to was to cede to America every Thing she could reasonably wish, in order to obliterate past Unkindnesses, and restore mutual Friendship.— Mr Fox and Mr Burke have quite as little good will to America as my Lord North or my Lord Mansfield.— And all Parties still listen to the Same kind of Councillers which has misled this deluded and devoted Kingdom these twenty Years.— A Galloway a Deane an Arnold, are not to this moment without an Influence, and I need not Say to Congress what is the Tendency of their Councils.
Mr Fox has leave to bring in a Bill, to Support another Proclamation like that which has already done So much Mischief to their own West India Islands, and Things will not be put on a better Footing, uless by Treaty. if a Commission has arrived in either of the Packets to Dr Franklin We shall soon see. But if not, and it is expected that We treat by Virtue of the Instructions We shall be { 424 } disappointed, for that will not be received as a Commission, not having any seal.
There are Rumours of a Change of Ministry. The K. is Said to be dissatisfied with the East India Bills. Tomorrow, when one of the Bills is to have a Second Reading in the House of Peers, the matter will he decided. if it fails, there will be a Change of Ministry and a dissolution perhaps of Parliament. But I think the Ministry So Strong, that unless the King is determined against it they will carry it by a great Majority.—4 In this Case, I look upon the Rubicon to be past against the East Indies as much as it ever was against America: and France & Spain have nothing to do but whet their Scissars for the favourable Moment to clip the other Wing.— if Oppression and Extorsion, Rapacity and Violence are lessened, by taking that immense Country into the Hands of Ministers, I am much mistaken. it is natural, that the King Should be allarmed. his Ministers for twenty Years, have proved So unsuccessfull and therefore so unskillfull, in conducting the Administration of his Dominions abroad, that it is no Wonder he should be afraid of this new Experiment.
LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 107.
1. The absence of a copy of this letter in the PCC and its abrupt end in the Letterbook make it unlikely that it was sent.
2. Thomas Mifflin. The previous president, Elias Boudinot, had indicated in a 3 Nov. postscript to his 27 Oct. letter to the commissioners, above, that Mifflin had been chosen president that morning.
3. This is Elias Boudinot’s younger brother, Lewis. But the younger Boudinot had already, on 29 Sept., sent Benjamin Franklin the 15 July letter from the president of Congress to the commissioners in which the events of the mutiny were recounted, for which see note 12 to that letter, above. JA’s comment seems to indicate that Boudinot brought another copy of the 15 July letter.
4. JQA and presumably JA attended at least a portion of the 15 Dec. debate in the House of Lords on the India Bill—one of two bills drafted by paymaster Edmund Burke and introduced by foreign secretary Charles James Fox in a controversial effort to reform the administration of India (JQA to Peter Jay Munro, 19 Dec., NNMus). The India Bill proposed a reorganization of the East India Company. It called for the appointment of seven commissioners, initially named by Parliament but subsequently chosen by the king, to oversee the company’s political activities. It also provided for the appointment of nine assistant commissioners to supervise the company’s commercial ventures.
The India Bill aroused resistance in and out of Parliament. The opposition in both houses denounced the bill for violating the charter of the company and infringing the prerogatives of the crown. They charged that Fox only wanted patronage and that he intended to seize India for his own ends. The shareholders of the company objected to the bill as an expropriation of their property, while the directors insisted that the company’s financial difficulties had been overstated. Newspapers disseminated and enlarged the arguments and accusations. Caricaturists, too, played a significant role in the attack.
The controversy generated in response to the India Bill presented an opportunity not only to defeat the legislation but to topple the governing coalition led by Fox and home secretary Frederick, Lord North. In the House of Commons, where the coalition had a substantial majority, the bill passed by a comfortable margin on 3 December. But in { 425 } the House of Lords, where passage normally would have been a foregone conclusion, the bill failed in a narrow though stunning upset. Resentful of Fox for his efforts to increase ministerial authority at the expense of royal prerogatives, George III conspired with the opposition to kill the India Bill and unseat the coalition ministry. In an extraordinary maneuver, the king acted to influence the debate in the Lords by making it known, through Lord Temple, that “whoever voted for the India Bill were not only not his friends, but he should consider them as his enemies.” The king’s intervention proved decisive, swaying in particular several bishops. When on 16 Dec. the opposition moved to cut off debate on the bill and adjourn, the measure carried by eight votes, sealing the fate of the Fox-North coalition. A day later the bill itself was rejected by nineteen votes. Having made it appear that the coalition ministry could no longer command the support of Parliament, George III brought the intrigue to a close on the 18th, serenely requiring Fox and North to surrender their seals of office. A new ministry headed by William Pitt took over the next day (Cannon, Fox-North Coalition, p. 106–145). For a caricature that helped to foment resistance to the India Bill, see Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 9, above.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0206

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Dumas, C. W. F.
Date: 1783-12-14

To C. W. F. Dumas

[salute] Sir

I have received your Favour of the fifth of this Month and wish it were in my Power to inform you precisely whether I am to reside in future at the Hague, or not. But it is not.— Congress have Sent, by Capt. Jones, Powers to me jointly with the other Ministers At the Peace to treat with all the Powers of Europe, that may be disposed to treat, and this together with the difficult Work of treating with this Country, where I now am will oblige me to be with my Colleagues, for Sometime: Nevertheless, when my Family arrives, it is my Intention to reside with them at the Hague, and it will be necessary for Us to have the whole House.
This is all I can Say, untill I know more clearly the Intentions of Congress.
I have a Letter from the President of Congress of Nov. 1. in which he Says “Yesterday We gave a public Audience to Mr Van Berckel. just before the Ceremony began Coll Ogden arrived with the News of the Completion of the Definitive Treaty. This gave a great Addition to the General Joy that prevailed on the Occasion of the Day. Mr Van Berckel appears to be a Person, very much Suited to the manners of our People, and I am much mistaken if he does not do great Honour to his Commission.[”]1
Thomas Mifflin Esq is the new President, & Congress have adjourned to Anapolis.
With much Esteem &c
LbC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mr Dumas”; APM Reel 107.
{ 426 } { 427 }
1. If this is a direct quotation from the 1 Nov. letter from the president of Congress to the commissioners as received by JA, then the recipient’s copy, not found, differed substantially from the file copy in the PCC, the source for the letter as printed above.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0207

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Date: 1783-12-14

To Benjamin Franklin

[salute] Sir

The Day before Yesterday, Mr: Boudinot called upon me, with Dispatches from the President of Congress, his Brother. There were two Letters addressed to the “Ministers” and these I opened but found little or Nothing but Duplicates of Dispatches, receiv’d by you before I left Auteuil.
There are two letters, and one large Packet addressed to you, which I have the Honour to transmit by Mr: Little page.
Mr: Jay and I are waiting, for Advices from your Excellency. if this Packet or that by Captn: Jones contains a Commission to treat with Great Britain, it will be necessary that we should return, to Paris, or that you should come to London very soon— I am also very anxious to hear whether it is possible for you to Save Mr: Morris’s Bills at Amsterdam from a Protest for Non payment.1 If it is not, many Individuals will be disappointed, and the Catastrophe to American Credit must come on.
With the greatest Respect, I have the Honour to be, Sir, your / Most obedt:
LbC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency Benjn: Franklin Esqr:”; APM Reel 107.
1. Franklin replied to this letter on 3 Jan. 1784, below, but by then JA was on his way to the Netherlands. For the arrival of that letter at The Hague and an account of JA’s effort to resolve the crisis over Robert Morris’ bills, see his letter to Franklin of 24 Jan., below.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0208

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Staphorst, Nicolaas & Jacob van (business)
Recipient: Willink, Wilhem & Jan (business)
Recipient: La Lande & Fynje, de (business)
Date: 1783-12-14

To Wilhem & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, and De la Lande & Fynje

[salute] Gentlemen

I have received your Letter of the Second of December and am extreamly Sorry to learn, that a Number of Mr Morris’s Bills have been protested.
You did very prudently in writing immediately to Mr Franklin, to { 428 } enquire if Mr Grand could afford you, any Assistance. I hope you have received a favourable Answer.
I am waiting for Answers from Mr Franklin to Letters written to him, to determine whether I am to return to Paris or the Hague. But I dont know that I could be of any Service to you, if I were in Holland.
With much Esteem &c
LbC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Messrs Wilhem and Jan Willink / Nicholas and Jacob Van Staphorst / and de la Lande & Fynje”; APM Reel 107.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0209

Author: Sullivan, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-12-21

From James Sullivan

[salute] My Dear Sir

To trouble you with a Letter merely by way of compliment, or to have it known that I assume the freedom of writing to you is quite out of the way of my practice. nor can I say any thing respecting our Confederation, or constitution, but what you are perfectly acquainted with— but as Mr Cranch tells me that you complain of the remisness of your friends on this side the water for not giving you particular information respecting our Situation, I shall be as full on the Subject as the compass of a letter will admit of—
The treaty of peace gives more universal Satisfaction than any thing of the kind in a free Country ever did before. the right to the fishery crowns all, and holds a distinguished place in the treaty. as we have no reason to doubt of your similar exertions in securing us a right to go to market with our fish and other produce, so we heartily wish you may be blessed with Similar Success. that part of the treaty which relates to the property of Refugees or loyalists, gave the only damp which the public mind Suffered from the Negotiation: but even this was Soon lost in wonder that the Court of London did no more for those unhappy mistaken people. the Southern States are before hand with us in thier disposal of tory property. whether this is owing to our Attorney Generals being too much involved in great matters seems now to be a very serious question. the public voice is against him for Negligence, though no one doubts of his integrity. he defends himself by saying that the act for confiscation, of it self, confiscates all the Estates of the persons therein described, but this principle is by no means likely to prevail.2 the truth is that some Gentlemen of the bar engaged on the other side had address enough to get the trials postponed in hopes of releif from { 429 } the treaty of peace. our System as to this matter is quite disranged but the treaty is to be preserved inviolate let what may result from it. our affairs as a nation are by no means dangerous, but at the same time they are far from being as we would wish them to be. we have a debt of ten millions Sterling upon us, our rescources are very ample. the great one of trade is quite untouched, but all our Means for discharging this debt avails us nothing, without wisdom, and power to Manage them. the ability of aranging & improving our rescources to advantage you are Sensible Sir can not be brought to light without a confidence being placed some where by the public, Congress seem to be the only body of men capable of receiving the Confidence of the confederated States, and yet I am exceedingly affraid that they never will obtain enough of it, to Support, with any kind of dignity, and reputation the federal Government. there is a concurrance of unhappy circumstances to obstruct this desirable event, and So Effectually do they opperate in Rhode Island and Conecticut that each attempt to furnish Congress with powers adequate to the Government ends in disappointment; the half pay granted the Officers of the Army, or rather the Commutation of five years Whole pay for it has done much to weaken the Congressional influence. General Washington combats the undue prejudice with less Success than he deserves, but with more than was at first expected. the Salaries of the servants of Congress residing within the States are too high for the New England taste. the remove of Congress from Philaa. has given the people there a licence to Scribble in a manner which neither does honor to that City, or a benefit to the public. a member returning from Congress as it is Said asserts that Congress had borrowed thirty six Millions of Livres which are never accounted for, this was told to sundry of the members of the house on the day assigned for the second reading of the bill enclosed, which passed only by a majority of six, an Extract of one of your Letters to Mr. Moris did us much service on this great occasion.3 Secret servies, or rather charges for them are illy calculated to Establish in republican Governments a Confidence in their rulers. this tale of 36 millions is plumply denied, and it is asserted that it came from a disappointed member. another difficulty arises from a report that the french Nation has a party in Congress, which receive Bribes to betray the Cabinet. a Gentleman of public notice but who was not early devoted to the fate of his Country, but who has been a member, at a public dinner within a few weeks past took the freedom to aver this to be the Case, and our Philosophizing politicons propose { 430 } to bring in a British Interest to balance the french, and money seems to be considered as the medium of this Species of corruption. but this is all on the dreadful Idea, of our being in the Last Stages of corruption, a corruption not instigated by ambition or the Love of wealth, but one arising from a Sordid disposition, united with a total disregard to national Safety and Character, this has raised and cannot fail Still to raise Jealousies against Government, and to Stir up uneasiness and discontent. I think that the member of Congress who Should take money on any pretense whatever of a foreign Sovereign, ought to be sacrificed without even the formalites of Law, and one who would condescend to take a lesson in politicks from a foreign ambassador ought to be recalled with all the marks of contempt he woud deserve— but I beleive our Countrymen have more integrity than to be thus bribed, and that these stories are hatched and Spread by those who never were in favour of our Independence I can easily concieve however that nearly the same evils may flow from an imaginary as from a real corruption. there may be two raging parties subsisting upon a supposition that each other is bought, and so become the Sport of nations and the objects of distrust and Jealousy, in the same manner, as if both were bribed.4 I have no doubt that there are various nations who by their influence in our Councils would Govern us if they could, they would take advantage of our youth inexperience and even our Necessities this ought to teach us to be cautious but not to quarrel.
I wish on the whole that Congress may have the powers necessary to conduct the federal Government, and our necessities will finally compel us Either to relinquish our Ideas of being a nation, or to support the union by proper Methods—
our Government here goes on tolerably well it wants Energy— our parties here are not extensive, there is an unhappy distance between the Governor and the president of the Senate—5 as no one that I know of, knows the reason so no one takes any part in the matter, each hath the full suffrages of the people. the Street talk is that the Governor is going to resign his office, how that will be I know not, his health is however too bad to engage much in public business
our Judges intend next term to appear in their Robes— want of health, a small fortune and a great Family have been my apology for leaving the Bench and going to the bar; the groanings of the Gentlemen I left there are unutterable but their salaries do not rise—
You have probably seen the Letter of Congress which I inclose. I have been by men whom I regard accused of being a party man for { 431 } attacking Mr Temple, but God knows that it arose from no such motive, but from full Evidence of his having received money of the British ministry for his coming out in 1778 and finding from his conversation that he meant to create distrust and Jealosy with regard to our foreign ministers, and our Congress, I attacked him to prevent his obtaining an influence, and beleive that in no instance did I ever do my Country more Essential service— as soon as the enclosed resolve was passed he Saild for London6
Doctor Cooper lays very ill I beleive he will die there is a universal and uncommon concern for him
I expect to Set off for Congress in March, but think I could do more good on the Boston Seat—7
I will know close this tedious Letter by expressing the general wish for your health & happiness, but particularly for your return to this State—
I am Sir with the highest / Sentiments of Esteem & real friendship / Your Most obedt. Hble Servt
[signed] James Sullivan
December 2[ ]
The Revd. Doctor Cooper is given over by his Physicians perhaps he will be numbered with the dead within a few hours.8 Congress as it is said have forsaken their plan of building a federal Town because they doubt whether the Confederation gives them Authority for it— it is said they will adjourn from April next to November. the President of the Senate has been very unwell but has recovered You Lady & Family all well—
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “The Honble. Mr. Adams”; endorsed: “Mr Sullivan. 21 / Decr. 1783.” Some loss of text due to a torn manuscript.
1. JA received this letter in April 1784 and drafted a reply on the 20th (Adams Papers). The presence of the reply in the Adams Papers and the fact that it is apparently incomplete may mean that it was never sent.
2. Confiscation acts approved by the Mass. General Court in 1779 required Attorney General Robert Treat Paine to initiate action against tory estates before the property could be sold. Paine was slow to bring claims, depending upon haphazard reporting by town committees to identify estates. Critics charged that low prices realized in the sales that did occur benefited insiders, but the true cause of the low prices was likely a lack of cash on the part of potential buyers. Criticism of his lack of vigor in prosecuting confiscations would plague Paine until he left office in 1790 and was succeeded by Sullivan (Edward W. Hanson, “Robert Treat Paine, Attorney General,” Massachusetts Legal History, 8:108–110, 122 [2002]; DAB).
3. For Morris’ use of extracts from JA’s letters of 10 and 11 July, above, see Morris’ letters to JA of 20 Sept., and note 1, and 5 Nov., and note 1, both above.
4. Sullivan’s denunciation of foreign bribes may have resulted from a rumor, almost certainly unfounded, that earlier in 1783 JA had written a letter accusing Sullivan, John Hancock, and Samuel Cooper of being “pensioners” to France. In AA’s 27 Dec. letter to JA, she attributed the rumor to Sullivan’s bitter rival, John Temple (AFC, 5:289–290, note 13).
{ 432 }
5. The bitter antagonism between Hancock and Samuel Adams dated from 1775 and stemmed from political rivalry and Adams’ disdain for Hancock’s opulent lifestyle. Despite a Sept. 1782 report by William Gordon that the rivalry was cooling, it continued unabated until the two reconciled in 1788 (vol. 13:452, 453; Harlow Giles Unger, John Hancock: Merchant King and American Patriot, N.Y., 2000, p. 201–202, 206, 211, 259–265, 286, 311, 318–319).
6. For Sullivan’s newspaper war with John Temple, see vol. 11:449–452 and AFC, 5:289–290, note 13. Sullivan’s enclosure has not been found but was almost certainly a copy of a 22 Oct. resolution by the Mass. General Court that released Temple from a 4 Dec. 1781 bond in which he pledged he would “not directly or indirectly give any intelligence to the enemies of the United States.” Temple departed Massachusetts for England on 21 Nov. 1783 (Supplement to the Acts and Resolves of Massachusetts, ed. Edwin M. Bacon, Boston, 1896, p. 190; Massachusetts Spy, 27 Nov.).
7. Sullivan was elected to Congress in June 1783 but never served. He resigned in Feb. 1784 and was replaced by Francis Dana (Burnett, Letters of Members, 7:lxix).
8. Rev. Samuel Cooper died on 29 December. For reports on his death and funeral, see William Gordon’s 7 Jan. 1784 letter, and note 13, below.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0210

Author: Staphorst, Nicolaas & Jacob van (business)
Author: Willink, Wilhem & Jan (business)
Author: La Lande & Fynje, de (business)
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-12-23

From Wilhem & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, and De la Lande & Fynje

[salute] Sir

We do ourselves the honour in answer to your Excellency’s esteemed favour of 14 dec̃:, to hand you inclosed Copy of the Letters both of Doctor Franklin Esqr and mr. Grand, by whch. you’ll be pleased to observe that the Contents are by no means favourable to our purpose.2
By the Washington Packet, we have again been favoured with His Excellency’s Mr. Robt. Morris Eqr.’s letters, with advice of new drafts to the Amount of 750.000 f whch: is nothing Less than an augmentation of the difficulties, we Labour with,3 to dispose the undertakers, and money Lenders to take obligations, whch. all to no purpose, Since they Seem informed, that the Emperor and Russia to the Example of Sweden, will augment the intrest, whch: expedient France actually Sets on foot with their Loan to open in Jany of 100 millions of Livres.
This has already induced us to offer them some higher premium, to whch. we thought ourselves fully authorised by the Circomstances, and drafts of Mr. Morris to prevent their being protested (when due) of nonpayment, whch. his Excellency writes us to prevent at all events, we have taken in consideration if it was not proper to apply to the Regency of our City, to obtain for the undertakers some facilities. by whch. means we might permove them to take Somuch Obligations, that we were able to do due honour to all { 433 } the drafts of the Super Intendant of Finance; we are therefore Sorry to See your Excellency is uncertain, whether he is to Come in Holland. Since We Suppose, that a proper application made in your respective Quality to our Regencÿ, might not prove unsuccessfull, however as no time can be lost, to Leave Space to our Regency for deliberating on this Subject to have their resolution before the bills become due. we take the liberty to pray your Excellency, in Case you are not to Come here very Soon, to favour us, with a letter in your Quality for our Minister Pensionaire Van Berckel Esqr. by whch. you pray him, to dispose favourably on the request, we present to the Regencÿ to promote the Course of the loan, whch. condescention will be looked upon by Congress, as a real proof of our City of their Friendship to the United States, who’ll not fail to put the right value on the Same.4
if this expedient may not yet prove Successfull in this application to the Magistrate, there remains one Way left, and the only one, that Your Excellency is pleased to authorize us, to make a new Loan of 4 millions of f, of whch. the intrest comes out against 6 % P An, when we Should not be destitute of hopes of Succeeding, but Without doubts we fear to be obliged to allow to the undertakers Some more premium, which we Shall not do, but in the greatest necessitÿ, & with particular economy.5 And, as His Excellency Robt. Morris Esqr mentions us, he pays Said intrest in America, we Venture to Suppose, that he Can have no objection to allow the Same here, the more, as not only All his drafts Should be honoured by it, and yet a considerable Sum become to his disposal, whilst their is no prejudice to Credit in augmenting the intrest, and only following the Example other powers have given, and to whch. our State admiralties, East Ind Comp: Shall be obliged to Come, to find money for the large loans, they Stand in need to make; by whch. we conclude, that those powers, who resolve the first to augment the intrest, will succeed, and leave it very uncertain for them, who afterwards follow, to be equal happy, in Case your Excellency approves of our ideas, and might judge proper to Send us at all events an authorisation, we pray to add an assurance to it, that the Loan done in Consequence Shall be duely approved and ratifyed by Congress.
We shall inform his Excellency Robt Morris Esqr: of this our application to your Excellency, and hope to convince here by both you and him of our uninterrupted endeavours for the intrest of Congress.
{ 434 }
We have the honour to be with respectfull / Regard / Sir / Your Excellency’s Most Humble / and Obedient Servants
[signed] Wilhem & Jan Willink
[signed] Nics. & Jacob van Staphorst.
[signed] de la Lande & fÿnje
RC and enclosures (Adams Papers); internal address: “To his Excellency John Adams Esqr. London.”; endorsed: “Willinks & Co. / 23 Decr 1783 / ansd. 29.”
1. This letter confirmed JA in his decision, likely made initially at Bath upon receiving Benjamin Franklin’s letter of 10 Dec., above, to go to the Netherlands to deal personally with the financial crisis. But see also the 26 Dec. letter from Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, below, in which the two bankers were even more insistent that JA should come to Amsterdam.
2. For the enclosed letters of 3 Dec. from Franklin and Ferdinand Grand, see the consortium’s letter of 2 Dec., note 5, above.
3. Presumably Robert Morris’ letters to the consortium of 23 Oct. and 5 Nov., but it was the first that represented “an augmentation of the difficulties, we Labour with.” There Morris indicated that on 21 Oct. he had drawn three bills of exchange, “each for two hundred and fifty thousand current Guilders” (Morris, Papers, 8:658–660, 734–736).
4. This is the consortium’s first indication that it was considering seeking the Amsterdam Regency’s participation in the loan in order to provide an immediate injection of cash with which to honor Morris’ bills of exchange. If when he received this letter JA had not already determined to go immediately to the Netherlands he likely would have written to his friend Engelbert François van Berckel, pensionary of Amsterdam. No letter from JA to Van Berckel has been found, but JA’s apparent failure to write almost certainly had no more effect on Amsterdam’s decision not to participate than did his mid-January arrival in the city. Then, as it had in 1782 when JA and the consortium contemplated the city’s participation in the first Dutch-American loan, Amsterdam ultimately refused to set a precedent by participating in a foreign, as opposed to a domestic, loan (vol. 13:483; to Benjamin Franklin, 24 Jan. 1784, below).
5. This is the consortium’s first mention of the possibility of raising a new loan. When JA visited Amsterdam in Jan. 1784 to consult with the bankers, he found that the circumstances were as dire as they had described. As a result, and after exploring other options, JA wrote to the consortium on 1 Feb. authorizing it to initiate negotiations for a new loan (LbC, APM Reel 107), and on 9 March he signed a contract for a loan of 2 million florins (Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0211

Author: Staphorst, Nicolaas & Jacob van (business)
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-12-26

From Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst

[salute] Sir

At the beginning of this Week having many Letters to dispatch relating to the Business of the United States, we agreed together upon their Contents, and every one of us charged himself with part of the Work. Mr. Willink promised to write a Letter to your Excellency, and a short Time before the departure of the Mail, he Sent it to the other Houses for Signing. We observed he had not been very fortunate in the Expression of our common Ideas, however there being no Time for composing another Letter, we put our Names under his composition.
But being in doubt wether your Excellency will sufficiently { 435 } understand the meaning, and the Matter being very interesting for the United States, we hope your Excellency will excuse us if we endeavour to Supply the Defect of that Letter. If the Matter was of less importance, we would not do it for Reasons, which will be very appearent to your Excellency; but we presume that those Reasons ought to be postponed, when there is Danger, that, by too much Delicacy, the Intrests of the United States might Suffer. We venture this Step without the knowledge of our Compagnons, in the Intention only to Serve your Excellency; we depend therefore upon your Friendship, that you’ll do us the Favour not to mention any Thing about this addres in your Letters to the three Houses.
Your Excellency is informed, that by the present Situation concerning the Loan, and the Dispositions of the Treasurer, we have been in the very disagreable necessity to decline the acceptance of half a million Guilders, and again of Seven hundred and fifty thousand Guilds. We are informed that if the last mentioned Sum should return thro’ want of Payment, Congres is not to pay any Charges upon their return, in consequence of an agreement made with the Houses, who took the Bills. But we presume that notwithstanding this, it will be a great advantage to the States, if we are able to pay them; and we know that the Expences, attending the Return of the half Million and the disappointment resulting from it, will be of such Consequences, that we don’t doubt but we are not only authorised to exert our utmost endeavours to dispose of a Quantity of Bonds, but even to allow some more Remedium to the Undertakers, than we stipulated at the beginning with your Excellency. It is allmost impossible at this Time to obtain an Engagement with these Gentlemen, unless we should make Such Stipulations, which however we look upon as very prejudicial.
Considering this, and besides that the not paying of the Drafts would occasion a Stagnation of Commerce in the Spring, because Several Bills are remitted to Such People, who are to send out Goods to their Amount; we thought it merited the Attention of our Government, and we have therefore mentioned the Matter to a couple of very Patriotic Members of our Magistracy, and desired their Assistance for Such Encouragements as may facilitate the Business. We had the Satisfaction that they were fully convinced of the fatal Consequences of the Return of the Bills, and that they promised to assist us in a further Application, which, on this Assurance we have determined to make. We are in hopes it will be effectual, but we believe at the Same Time, that your Excellency being { 436 } present, and aproving of our Idea, would give a great weight to our adres: and therefore, we should wish, that in case your other important Business would permit that Step, your Excellency would make a trip to this Country. However considering the present Season, and that perhaps other important Things, concerning the United States, may make it impossible for your Exce. to comply with our desire, we request you’ll write a Letter to Mr. Van Berckel, Pensionary of this City to recommend the Business, and we have Reason to think this will do very well.
Mr. Willink has added another Scheme of a new Loan for four Mills. at 6 pco. It is true that the Interests of Loans are rather augmented Since the Time you opened the Loan for the United States, and we don’t decline that plan, in case we should have the misfortune of a disappointment from the Magistracy, however we for our private opinion should prefer first to compleat the former Loan at 5 pco. Besides this we think it is necessary to inform your Excellency, that whenever you should give the preference to this Scheme, and authorise us to put it in Execution, it will not be done without granting a Remedium to the undertakers.
We have the Honour to remain very respectfully / Sir / of your Excellency / the most humb. and Obed. Servts.
[signed] Nics. & Jacob van Staphorst.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “M. Vanstaphorsts / 26. Decr. 1783.”

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0212

Author: Ridley, Matthew
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-12-27

From Matthew Ridley

[salute] Dear Sir

I was honored with your two esteem’d Favors of the 18t. & 21st. Ulto.1 I should have been a better Correspondent to you since your departure had I not been & still continue to be, under the greatest distress of a kind for Mrs Ridley’s health. I fear she will not recover.
I am happy to hear that you have profited so well by your Journey— May you continue to reap every advantage from it, you can wish—
If we may believe Reports from England, those People are at this time in great confusion— The most of them may mean well, but they have not the understanding to execute; and as to those who take the lead, I believe they may know how to do right, but as you observe their oppositions Parties & Passions prevent them—
You may remember I told you that there would be a change in the { 437 } Comptroller-ship— do you recollect that I told you one was a half-commonsense, another an Honest Man & the third a Knave? I lay my Life you are at no loss to guess which prevailed.—2 A New Loan is opened for 100 Millions & I am told it fills pretty fast—
The King has given permission for the French Officers who served in America to wear the Badge of the Cincinati— Major L’Enfant is come over with Barney & was charged with the application for the permission & also to get the several emblematical Medals struck.—3 As there is no doubt the Heirs will be as good Men as the Fathers, the Order I am told is to be Hereditary; but this is confined to the Military only— a few Honorary Members are to be admitted; but their Medals, after their Deaths, are to grace the Cabinets of the Curious.—
You will have no doubt heard that Mr Morris’s Bills on Holland are noted. It makes great noise & particularly in Holland— I wish you may be able to do something effectual in this Business, otherways I fear the effect of it—
Congress I learn are a moving Body— By the last Accounts they were going to Annapolis— I wish you were in America— Without flattery I think you might be of essential service—
The Alliance after having taken onboard her Carg[o for Vir]ginia was obliged to put into Phila where she has [been u]nloaded—4
The Affairs of the Caisse-Descompte seem to be arranged.—
I beg to be kindly remembered to your son & remain with esteem & Respect / Dear Sir / Your most Obedt servt
[signed] Matt: Ridley
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “His Excellency / John Adams Esqr.”; endorsed: “Mr Ridley. Decr. 27. / Ansd. Jany. 25. 1784.”; notation: “favd by / Mr Barclay.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.
1. Neither letter has been found.
2. The three men characterized by Ridley, probably in conversation with JA, cannot be identified with certainty. But in November Charles Alexandre de Calonne replaced Henri François de Paule Lefèvre d’Ormesson as French finance minister. The new minister was the last under Louis XVI to attempt the reform of the French fiscal system. The 1787 need to resolve the ongoing financial crisis led him to call together an Assembly of Notables, which in turn led to the meeting of the Estates General and the subsequent slide of France into revolution (Morris, Papers, 8:759; Murphy, Vergennes, p. 403–404).
3. Pierre Charles L’Enfant left America in Nov. 1783 charged by the Society of the Cincinnati with contacting other French officers who had served in America and forming a chapter in France. He was also to obtain reproductions of the society’s diploma, or certificate of membership, and the eagle that served as its membership badge. His efforts soon bore fruit. On 18 Dec. Louis XVI gave his blessing to the society and agreed be its patron, and on 7 Jan. 1784 the first meeting of the French branch was held in Paris (DAB; Minor Myers Jr., Liberty without Anarchy: A History of the Society of the Cincinnati, Charlottesville, Va., 1983, p. 146–149). For reproductions of the diploma and the eagle, both designed by L’Enfant, see same, between pages 176 and 177.
4. In August 1783 the frigate Alliance, { 438 } Capt. John Barry, had loaded 500 hogsheads of tobacco in Virginia consigned to the loan consortium in Amsterdam. Sailing for Europe on 21 Aug., the vessel soon began to leak badly and was forced to put in at Philadelphia on the 27th. In letters of 18 Sept. and 9 Oct., Robert Morris informed the consortium of the Alliance’s misfortune and indicated that the tobacco was being reloaded on two other vessels, the Princess Ulrica, Capt. Anders Askelin, and the Four Friends, Capt. Peter Cornelis (Morris, Papers, 7:736; 8:529–531, 597–598). The Princess Ulrica was damaged on its voyage. A letter from Robert W. Fox, dated 23 Dec. at the London Coffeehouse, indicated that he had received word from his firm, George C. Fox & Sons of Falmouth, England, that “a Swedish Ship loaded with 480 Hhds of Tobacco at Philadelphia for Amsterdam by Rob. Morris” had been forced to put in at that port for repairs (Adams Papers). No response by JA to that letter has been found. When the Princess Ulrica and the Four Friends reached Amsterdam, their cargoes were sold for f26,157.9. and f4,277.10., respectively (DNA:RG 39, Foreign Ledgers, Public Agents in Europe, 1776–1787, Microfilm, Reel 1, f. 135, 259).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0213

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Staphorst, Nicolaas & Jacob van (business)
Recipient: Willink, Wilhem & Jan (business)
Recipient: La Lande & Fynje, de (business)
Date: 1783-12-29

To Wilhem & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, and De la Lande & Fynje

[salute] Gentlemen.

I have just received the Letter, you did me the Honour to write me on the 23d: instt: and approve very much of your proposed application to the Regency of Amsterdam. But I hope to consult with you, more particularly very soon.— I shall sett off as soon as possible, but as I must go round by Calais and Antwerp. and the Season is extremely rigorous, and travelling very bad, I fear it will be ten Days before I can pay my Respects to you at Amsterdam. I will however lose as little Time as possible.1
With great Regards I have the Honour to be, Gentlemen, your most Obedient, Humble Servant.
LbC in JQA’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “Messrs: Wilhem and Jan Willink / Nicholas and Jacob Van Staphorst / and De la Lande and Fynje.”; APM Reel 107.
1. For an account of JA’s harrowing journey, which followed a different route, see his 24 Jan. 1784 letter to Benjamin Franklin, below.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0214-0001

Author: Dudley, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-12-30

This is a summary of a document and does not contain a transcription. If it is available elsewhere in this digital edition, a page number link will be provided below in the paragraph beginning "Printed."

From John Dudley

[salute] Honble. sir

Inclosed I send you the two certificates you advised me to right for as vouchers to the Truth of what I represented relative to my being a prisnor of war—1 Likewise I have taken great pains to find out Capt. James Commins Commander of the Confederate which Ship I was Illegally Sent from my native Country in— I have had the good fortune to find he is now at home reseding at grenwich— the { 439 } Cruel treatment I Recd. from him I did not Care to mention till I found him in being—which I now Likewise Inclose a Coppy of the reception I have met with and the Cause and manner of my being Sent to England—which I am ready to take my oath to the truth of it in presense of Capt. Commins—which he cannot Deny if he Should offer to do it I can prove it by one of his officers belonging to the Same Ship, now in London— I have Shown those certificates to Colonel Harrison and the other Long Detail of my Sufferings which he has been So kind as to go round and Shew them to Colonel Forrest Mr. Watson Mr. West Mr. Eliott &c whom is all well Satisfyed to the truth of my representation and ready and willing to assist me in geting my Liberty and only waits to hear you are Satisfied of the truth when I shall in a few Days have my Liberty—2 one of those gentlemen was with me this Day in prison returned those Vouchers and Desired I would without Loss of time Send them to recieve your Approbation that you are Satisfyed and if So a Line returned by post togather with thse two certificates to Shew them— I shall Soon be out of my troubles and Able to Efect that much wished for object of returning to my native Country—when I Shall Ever after pray and Dare vouch for my friend and relations on my arrival to Joyn me in that acknowledgment for your friendly Interest in Extricating me from ruin and Missery, and will on geting my Liberty think it a Duty Incumbant on me to give Every further Satisfaction that may be required and to return thanks to all my Countrymen for once more Seting me at Liberty— I most Humbly pray you may parden the Language of this, and admit that my present unhappy Situation render me Incapable of Expresing my Self—as I could wish—if I am So happy as for these vouchers to meet your Approbation and Induce you to Send a Line in answer to Shew my friends if Directed to No 78 Lombard Street it will be sent Immediately to me I am / Honble. sir / your Most Devoted / and Much obliged / Most Hble Servt.
[signed] John Dudley

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0214-0002

Date: 1783-12-30


The following is a True State of the Treatment of John Dudley—to Shew how Illegual he was sent from his native country—how he came to fall into the hands of the British and where his station was at that time—
J— D, is a native of N Carolina Late belonging to the 2nd. Regt. of said State—which Regt. he Left on thier March from west point to { 440 } Joyn the Southeron Army—in order to Join Colonel Henry Lees Legen. which he did—and after being some time with the Colonel— was appointed to the Rant of Lieutt, in a company of Jersey troops commd. by John Outwater Esqr. ordered to be Stationed at hackinsack for the protection of that quarter, it being near the Lines of new york—and by the resignation, of the above named commander, the said D—— had, for some Short time the comd. of the company—3 till on the night of the 30th of May 1781—he marched from his post— towards new york—with a Small party of men, with Intent to Storm a house belonging to Mr. Wm. Byard on Howbuck Island,4 which was, a harbour for those Refugeas that yoused to plunder the Inhabitants and on the 31 at Day Light he Arrived on the Island— where his retreat was cut of by a Supirior numer of refugeas under the command of a Mr. Blawvelt when a Scirmage Ensued and he Recd. a wound in his Left Leg that caused him to fall into the hands of Mr. B’s party, who took him to newyork, where he was Detained till the 4 of June, 81, when through the Interest of some american friends then residing in new york that formerly knew him—he obtained a parole from Major Duleney—then Adgt. Genl. of the British foreces5—to go out in the Jerseys and to Return in Six Days— it being late in the afternoon he proposed to Leave newyork yearly the next morning at which time—he went Down to the water Side—in order to cross the Northriver— but finding no boat ready and not wishing to be Ditained—he hired a barg for two Dollors—to Set him a cross to wehock— but had not Long Left the Shoar befor he saw a boat push of and come after him—and when coming up with him—a man, on board the name of Mc.michal a refugea officer—Said these words, Mr. Dudley, you must return to New york— D—— made this reply, by whose orders— I have a parole from Majr. Duleney—and should be glad to know what athority you have to remand me back again— on which Mc.michal said Let me see it— D—— refused to give it in his hands—but held it open before him— after reading it—he said it is of no concequence— you must return with me—and do not make any words but git into this Boat— on which—D—— obayed his orders—and after Seting Down in his Boat Insisted to know of him what was the cause of his calling him back, and that he thought he Did it on his own account—and could not answer for his conduct— he said he Could and would do it—but contrary to the Expectation of D—— Instead of being carried back to New york—Mcmichal ordered the Boat to pull Down the river—and run a Long side of the confederate, then Droping Down to the hook to convoey the cork { 441 } fleet home—where he ordered D—— on board—and reported to the commander of said Ship—Mr. James Commins that he had brough him one of those rebels that had so Long been troublesome on the Lines—and one that had some time before been a Spy and caused a Number of British to be cut of and that he beged particular care might be taken that he Did not make his Escape before they got to Sea as he would be further troublesome if he was not sent out of the country— with that Mcmichal took his Leave of Commins, and went on Shoar— D—— used Every Endeavour to make his Escape togather with the officers that had been taken in the Genl. Washington from Virginia, whom was confind—on Board the Confederate— but finding it could not be Done—and seeing the Ship was puting to sea—he went on the quarter deck intending to know why he was to be taken to England—as being a prisnor of war from the Land Service—but on his approaching near the Commander he was stoped by a Leiut. Gray—who says where are you going Sir— D—— I want to speak to the commander— Gray—go back you rascal—you have been a rebel Long Enough and been very troublesome— D—— then Endeavoured to reason with gray—but to no purpose— gray repeted again—go Down you rascal and Do your Duty, when I get you in the Blew water I will punish you—you now Deserve hanging—and further Says—go you up and Clear the pendant—which was then tangled—which D—— refused—and sayed I am a prisnor of war and can See no reason why I should be on board this Ship— gray—then took up the one End of a roope and struck him—and further Said pull of your hat you rascal or I will have you tied to the gangway and whiped— D—— then see what he had to Depend on—submited—to his hard fate—went Down betwen Decks—and in a few Days was throne into a violent fever—with the trouble it was to him of Leaving his native country and not having but small hopes of Ever returning— the fever togather with the hard fare he met with caused the wound in his Leg to Mortify and in a very short time after rendered him Incapible of siting up and to all appearance was past recovery not withstanding his Illness he had no place to Ley Down but on the coald and naked Decks—and repetedly trod on by the Seamen at work because he could not get out of the way— he seeing himself in such a Dismal situation—he got a half sheet of paper of one John Saint a prisnor and as well as he could Lay on his belley and rote a petition to capt. Commins to see if he could not move him to pity— which was Delivered to him—but to no purpose. he never saw proper to take any notice of it, but Let him remain in that situation { 442 } near ten Days without any nourishment at Length the quarter master and a young Mitshipman passing by saw him and Spoke—and after hearing his Distress seemed to take some pity on him—gave him a Hamock and had it slung in the sick bay—for him and he carried and put into it— they Likewise gave him a small quantity of shugar and tea—which the prisnr. used to prepare for him— this small assistance renderd. his Distressed Situation some more comfortable— he remained in this situation without any other assistance and having gone through various seens of Ill treatment tow teadeous to mention—till the Ship arrived in the Downs where he was Lifted out in a hamock past all hopes of recovery—and sent on shoar at Deal—where he Lay till crismus Day when his Leg was amputated and—the 24 of May 1782 was Dismised from that place to come to London—and arrived as far as chatham where he was taken sick and Lay three weeks and on his recovery had not one farthing of money—but was in that week condition obliged to take his time and walked on his Crutches to gravesend which took him three Days, where he told his situation and got his pasage to London in one of the Boats— and on his arrival in London he got into St. Thomases Hospital till he got able to go about when he made publick to this governmt the reception he had met with but all to Little purpose further particulars would be two teadeous to mention
RC and enclosures (Adams Papers). This letter has three enclosures. The first two, certificates from Thomas Peck and Evan Nepean, are with this letter in the Adams Papers and are discussed in note 1. The third, endorsed “Dudley a / prisoner,” is printed here but was filmed with Dudley’s letter of 19 Nov., above.
1. The first certificate, dated 1 Dec., was from Thomas Peck, “Surgeon & Agent for Sick & Hurt Seamen at Deal.” Peck wrote that Dudley had been “received from His Majesties Ship Confederate at Deal Hospital on the 27th: July 1781 for cure of wounded Leg, which Leg was Amputated there, and he discharged from thence to London on the 24th of May 1782.”
The second was from Evan Nepean, a former undersecretary of state in the Shelburne ministry, later known for his service with the Admiralty (DNB). Nepean, writing at the bottom of a letter from Dudley dated 1 Dec. 1783, declared that “I have not at any time, considered him, in any other respect, than, as a Prisoner of War.” This responded to Dudley’s explanation in his letter to Nepean that he needed such a certification because “I made application to Mr. Adams—for mony to pay my Dues in England—had not the Least Doubt he would see me Effectually Releasd and sent to my native country—but to my Sudden Suppriss he brought my politiceal conduct in question—Says I have never made any application to British goverment— as a prisnor of war and that he Does not think I have Ever been Looked on in that Situation, but that he thinks I have Since captured by the British been an officer with them and taken an active part against the Americans.” Dudley also indicated that he had “appointed tomorrow [2 Dec.] to Settle the Business with Mr. Adams and am unprepared to Bring my American comission or other vouchers to convinc him.” There is no record of any meeting between JA and Dudley on 2 Dec., nor is there any indication that JA responded to this letter with its enclosures, and there is no subsequent { 443 } correspondence between JA and Dudley.
2. The five men mentioned by Dudley presumably were Americans resident in London and likely included the merchants Col. Uriah Forrest and Elkanah Watson Jr. and the painter Benjamin West.
3. Dudley is listed as a sergeant on a 6 Feb. 1778 payroll of Capt. Clement Hall’s 2d N.C. Regiment. The official register of New Jersey soldiers in the Revolution notes his service as a private in Capt. John Outwater’s Bergen County Company of N.J. State Troops. Outwater’s “resignation” may have come as a result of his wounding in March 1780. No record has been found of Dudley’s service in Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee’s dragoons (DNA:RG 93, Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775–1783, Microfilm, Reel 79, f. 16, 17; William S. Stryker, comp., Official Register of the Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Revolutionary War, Trenton, 1872, p. 403, 580; Heitman, Register Continental Army, p. 345, 422).
4. Almost certainly William Bayard, wealthy New York merchant and loyalist, who possessed a large estate, confiscated by the state of New Jersey, on Hoobock Island, now part of Hoboken (Sabine, Loyalists).
5. Oliver De Lancey Jr., in 1781 a lieutenant colonel and assistant adjutant general (Worthington Chauncey Ford, comp., British Officers Serving in the American Revolution 1774–1783, Brooklyn, N.Y., 1897, p. 59; Sabine, Loyalists).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0215

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1784-01-03

From Benjamin Franklin

[salute] Sir

I received the Letter you did me the Honour of writing to me by Capt. Jones, and immediately answer’d it, acquainting you that my Packets contain’d no Commission, nor any Mention of one.2 I have just receiv’d another Letter from you, dated the 14th past, with a Number of Dispatches, but they are Duplicates only and as old as July; they contain nothing of the Commission neither, except the Vote that directs the making it out, which is dated in May. It seems to be forgotten. It was by no means possible for me to save Mr Morris’s Bills. I was in hopes that if you had gone to Amsterdam you might have done something towards it. With great Respect, I have the Honour to be, / Sir, / Your Excellency’s most obedt / & most humble Servant
[signed] B Franklin
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excelly. John Adams Esqre.
1. This letter was sent to London and then forwarded to JA in the Netherlands, where he received it at Amsterdam. He acknowledged it in his 24 Jan. letter to Franklin, below. On the day that Franklin wrote, JA and JQA were at Harwich, having left London the previous day, and were awaiting passage for the Netherlands. They sailed on the 5th (JA, D&A, 3:152; JQA to Peter Jay Munro, 13 Jan., NNMus).
2. JA’s letter was of 5 Dec., to which Franklin replied on the 10th, both above.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0216

Author: Gordon, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1784-01-07

From William Gordon

[salute] My dear Sir

You have very fairly & fully discharged your epistolary account of the preceeding year; which is an encouragement for me to begin { 444 } anew.1 There is both pleasure & profit in corresponding with You; & notwithstanding some desponding expressions, I trust your strength & spirits will not be exhausted, till the business is completed. Finesse & subtilty are ministerial qualifications; & the only effectual way to outwit court-politicians is by being honest, for of that they have no idea. A propos, learnt while upon my southern tour, that Marbois denies his having written such a letter as has been pretended.2 He says, that the British might intercept a letter of his, but that they have deciphered it wrong, & charge him with expressions that are not in it (This from one who had been of Congress) in order to exculpate himself. But when Marbois had his first interview with friend Gerry, he lookt so queerly as seemed to imply that he felt guilty, & almost disconcerted our steady Patriot. I could wish with You, that the Americans would never practise the sublimated refinements of European Politicks; but, from what I have observed, imagine that human nature will act alike in all quarters of the world. Should the Millenium commence on this side the Atlantic, as some divines conjecture, you may then have a greater share of virtue, than an equal quantity of mankind in any other part of the globe at the same period. But commence where it will, I should be glad to have it commence, that so the inhabitants of these lower regions might have a stronger resemblance to those of the upper. Pray let me have the History of the shrew’d Dutchmen’s being taken in. You have raised my curiosity, & me thinks you ought to gratify it.3 I am so pleased with the character you have given me of Mr Jay, & his conduct has so effectually removed the suspicions I had entertained, that I must pray you to present my most cordial respects to him.4 They are of little intrinsic value, & yet may please him more than the most fulsome adulation. Thus much as to yours of Apr 15th, excepting that I have endeavoured to use it for public benefit in a discretional way. I should have gone on further by daylight; but have been called off by an account of Callahan’s vessel & cargo being lost off Cape Cod. Am a sufferer to a small amount, but am easy upon hearing that the Capt Passengers, 13 or more, & men are all safe.5 Must finish by candle, that it may go tomorrow. Should not the following scrip be equally good, it may be legible, & perhaps sensible tho’ inferior to Youngs Night Thoughts.6
Your device is admirable—thirteen stars guarding, a fish, a deer, & an oak with a new star sprouting from the top of it.7 Lest You should not have written to Mr Gerry I copied yours of Sept 10th & forwarded it by post to Annapolis;8 You will have heard of Congress’s { 445 } having removed to that spot, & all about it, through Mr Thaxter, as I suppose, therefore shall be silent upon that. The paragraph respecting moderation &c with your opinion of Mr Jay is upon the road to Govr Clinton at New York, with a request to keep it out of print for the present: but I thought it might strengthen his hands, & tend to cool down the madness of some violent partizans, who while they claim the character of whigs are practising the absurdities of toryism, like your divines who are fire-hot for moderation.9
I say with You treat every public man with as much candour & indulgence as possible; but then I add, let it be such public men as are worthy & deserving, & not such as have forfeited all indulgence & whose behaviour entitles them to no candour, & who by being public men are a detriment to the public & will make the public contemptible. I refer to those who mean well for themselves only & are not well-meaning in any other sense. Let them meet with obstacles & smart under them till they retire into obscurity, & leave the stage for actors who are well principled. I am fully in the opinion of its being of indespensible importance to keep the Union. But I am not for being betrayed under that plea, into a violation of the Confederation & the great fundamentals upon which it was established, & into a mode of congressional government, that, by not suiting the northern climate however well adapted for the southern, will after a time bring on fresh wars & fightings among ourselves, & make the whole one great empire, or break us into smaller ones, instead of remaining separate states, united by confederation, under a Congress freely chosen by the powers of each state. Your words to Congress, I suppose upon the importance of the Union, have been swelled & played off to answer the purpose of getting the Impost in[to] the hands of Congress for a long run of years & to be collected by their own servants.10 What is your real opinion upon the subject I know not: but I remember what Burgh says, all government is arbitrary, that is, tends to it.11 Sure I am, from the good information recd when I was about Congress at Princeton last fall, that there are individuals in that body of tyrannical principles, or they would never have talk’t as they did against calling the Financier to an account because they had left it with him to manage—& that Congress had a right to keep up a standing army in a time of peace. I doubt not but that your Machiavelians can turn themselves into all shapes & can play upon any string whether aristocratic, democratic, civil or military or even a shoe-string. You have my assent & consent to execrate in the strongest terms low cunning & mean { 446 } craft. Your declaration, “but treaties are solemn things, in which there should be no mental reservations” deserves to be written in characters of gold; but there are few courts whether Protestant or Popish, that will adhere to it at heart.12 Last monday sennight died Dr Cooper in the 59th year of his age, after a six weeks illness. He was buried the friday following. The weather was bad, but the funeral very large.13 What the Governor will do, now he has lost his prime minister remains to be known. A few weeks back, he would resign; yes he would, & swore to it. The Council was summoned, to be eye & ear witnesses of the extraordinary event. The day came, when lo! the mouse appeared upon the green cloth—his friends alias enemies had advised him to the contrary. Risum teneatis.14 Should he not obtain the vote of the people the next year, & the election lie between him Bowdoin & Lincoln & the house be of the same complexion, I am told he will not have the chair.15 But my paper informs me it is high time to subscribe Your sincere friend & very huml Servant
[signed] William Gordon
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “His Excellency John Adams Esqr / To the Care of / Messrs De Neufville’s / Merchants / Amsterdam”; endorsed: “Dr Gordon. Jan. 7. 1784.” Some loss of text due to a torn manuscript.
1. JA and Gordon wrote two letters each in 1783. JA wrote on 15 April and Gordon on 10 May (vol. 14:410–412, 472–473). Gordon wrote again on 28 June, and JA responded on 10 Sept., both above.
2. Gordon had traveled to Philadelphia and New Jersey in the autumn of 1783 to petition Congress to grant access to George Washington’s papers for his use in writing a history of the American Revolution. Congress approved his petition on 25 May 1784 (MHS, Procs., 63:498–503; JCC, 27:427–428). For François Barbé-Marbois’ intercepted 1782 letter to the Comte de Vergennes criticizing American efforts to secure their right to the Newfoundland fisheries, see JA to Robert R. Livingston, 10 July 1783, and note 3, and Samuel Osgood to JA, 7 Dec., and note 12, both above.
3. In his 15 April 1783 letter to Gordon, JA alluded to the Netherlands’ reliance on France in its peace negotiations with Britain. He believed that such trust compromised the Dutch position, just as it would have that of the United States if the American peace commissioners had not negotiated with Britain separately from France in violation of their instructions. JA wrote that “we need not wonder at the simplicity & innocence, the amiable unsuspecting Confidence of our own Countrymen, when we see the old experienced Dutchmen taken in, the history of wh: is very curious” (vol. 14:408, 409, 412).
4. In his letter of 30 Nov. 1782, Gordon had written that an unnamed person had criticized Benjamin Franklin and John Jay as “unfit for the business” of negotiating the peace. In his letter of 15 April 1783, JA responded that “your Countryman was never more mistaken than wn: he spoke slightly of Mr: Jay, wm: I wd. not scruple to pit against the proudest Statesman in Europe. Our Country was never better represented than by him” (vol. 14:101, 102, 412).
5. The Boston Evening Post of 10 Jan. 1784 reported that a “violent storm” on 2 Jan. had caused the brig Peace and Plenty, bound from London to Boston under Capt. John Callahan, to go aground off the Cape Cod town of Truro. The paper noted that “Capt. Callahan had several ladies and a number of gentlemen on board, passengers, from London, who, we rejoice to hear, were, together with all the seamen . . . happily saved from perishing; though several of them were nearly exhausted when they reached the { 447 } shore.” The cargo was salvaged and auctioned in Boston on 24 Jan. (Boston Independent Chronicle, 22 Jan.). Among the passengers were John Wheelock and his brother James, who were returning from their unsuccessful mission to raise funds for Dartmouth College (Leon Burr Richardson, History of Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H., 1932, p. 208).
6. Edward Young, The Complaint; or, Night Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality: In Nine Nights.
7. The “device” affixed to JA’s 10 Sept. 1783 letter to Gordon, above, was apparently the seal that he had commissioned after the conclusion of the preliminary peace treaty between Great Britain and the United States on 30 Nov. 1782. Sporting a pine tree, a deer, and a fish, the seal commemorated JA’s efforts in the negotiations to establish expansive boundaries for the new nation and guarantee American access to the Newfoundland fisheries. Although JA had acquired the pine tree, deer, and fish seal by 13 May 1783, when he used it on a letter to Antoine Marie Cerisier (vol. 14:478–479), he resorted to the Boylston family seal at the signing of the definitive treaty on 3 Sept. (Catalogue of JQA’s Books, p. 136–137, 140–141). For a later version of the pine tree, deer, and fish seal, see Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 10, above.
8. The only extant copy of JA’s 10 Sept. letter, above, is Gordon’s transcription included in his 24 Dec. letter to Elbridge Gerry (NN:Gerry-Townsend Papers). For Gordon’s complete letter to Gerry, see MHS, Procs., 63:500–502 (1929–1930).
9. Gordon’s letter to New York governor George Clinton has not been found, but Clinton was trying to control whig mobs that were attacking loyalists remaining in New York following the British evacuation of the city on 25 November. While the governor urged restraint, his more radical political allies sought revenge for loyalist actions against the whigs during the occupation (Paul A. Gilje, The Road to Mobocracy: Popular Disorder in New York City, 1763–1834, Chapel Hill, N.C., 1987, p. 74–77).
10. Presumably a reference to Morris’ use of extracts from JA’s letters of 10 and 11 July, above, to lobby for the passage of the impost bill, for which see Morris’ letters to JA of 20 Sept., and note 1, and 5 Nov., and note 1, above. In his letters to Morris, JA made clear his support for the establishment of an impost to fund repayment of the Dutch loans.
11. Presumably the quotation is from James Burgh’s Political Disquisitions, 3 vols., London, 1774–1775, but the quotation, if it is one, has not been precisely located. For a reference to Burgh along much the same lines, see Mercy Otis Warren’s 10 March 1776 letter to JA, vol. 4:50.
12. Gordon quotes JA’s 10 Sept. 1783 letter, above.
13. That is, Rev. Samuel Cooper died on 29 December. The Boston Continental Journal of 1 Jan. 1784 announced Cooper’s death after he had “been confined to his Chamber with a Disorder of the Lethargick Kind for upwards of six Weeks.” On 8 Jan. the Salem Gazette reported on Cooper’s funeral, where the sermon was delivered by John Clarke of the First Church. It noted “the presence of a great concourse of spectators, whose melancholy countenances bespoke the loss of a great character.” The first page of the Boston Independent Chronicle’s 8 Jan. issue contained a lengthy monody “on the much lamented DEATH of the Reverend SAMUEL COOPER, D. D.,” which ended “We mourn a brother, and a patriot, dead!” He was also remembered in Phillis Wheatley, An Elegy, Sacred to the Memory of that Great Divine, the Reverend and Learned Dr. Samuel Cooper, Boston, 1784 (Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, 11:211; Evans, No. 18726).
14. Refrain from laughing.
15. For John Hancock’s reversal of his decision to resign, see Tristram Dalton’s letter of 5 Dec. 1783, and note 5, above.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0217

Author: Gerry, Elbridge
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1784-01-14

From Elbridge Gerry

[salute] My dear Friend

The definitive Treaty is this Day ratified by Congress, & I have but a few Moments, by Colonel Hermer, who is charged with the Delivery thereof,1 to inform You that Mr Dana is arrived & { 448 } { 449 } requested to attend Congress. I have suggested to some of my Friends the good policy of appointing him to a Seat in Congress, & to him the Advantages to be at this Time expected from the Measure; & I flatter myself, it will be adopted.2
The Dispatches by Mr Thaxter have been committed, & a Report is made for authorizing Yourself, Doctor Franklin & Mr Jay to negotiate Treaties with every power mentioned in your Letters. the general principles of the Treaties are stated in the report, conformable to which You are to be authorized to enter into them, without first reporting to Congress, as was proposed by the Resolutions of October last, past at princeton. those proceedings appeared to me calculated to defeat every Treaty & confine our Commerce to France & Holland, for after You had formed the projects, as they are called, & sent them to America, projects of another Nature would have been contrived here to have made Alterations which would have in Effect rendered null your proceedings. I hope the report will pass as it now stands & that You will be expeditious in the Business—3
I observe by your Letters that according to your Orders, You have reported your conferences to the Secretary of foreign affairs.4 your Information is useful, exceedingly so, but as the other Commissioners have not adopted the same Mode, I suspect they have not received similar Instructions, & that the original plan on this Side was, to discover to the other, your Communications; to prevent or destroy this Confidence You have there established, & to make this appear as an unfortunate Accident, which nevertheless ought to be attended with your recall. be this as it may, I think the Interest of yourself & Mr Jay is at this Time well supported in Congress— I have not Time to revise, much less to correct, & therefore must bid You adieu, after requesting my best Respects to Mr Jay his Lady & Mr Carmichael, if in paris— your Family was in Health by the last Letters from Home, but Doctor Cooper was given over by his Physicians— be assured my dear sir I am on every Occasion Yours / sincerely
[signed] E. G.
I shall propose to Congress a Resolution for approving in proper & honorable Terms the Negotiations of their plenipoes who negotiated the peace, but cannot say whether the Measure will be successful5
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr Gerry. 14. Jan. / 1784. Anapolis.”
1. Col. Josiah Harmar (1753–1813) of Philadelphia was one of three couriers assigned to carry copies of the ratified definitive treaty to Europe. Harmar traveled overland to New { 450 } York and sailed on a French packet on 21 January. When the vessel ran aground he returned to port and embarked on another ship on 17 February. He reached Paris on or about 31 March, the day on which Benjamin Franklin wrote JA to announce the arrival of the treaty (Adams Papers; DAB; Morris, Peacemakers, p. 448).
2. Appointed a Massachusetts delegate to Congress on 11 Feb., Francis Dana presented his credentials at Annapolis on 24 May (JCC, 27:418–419).
3. For the object of Gerry’s concern and its ultimate resolution, see the 29 Oct. 1783 instructions to the commissioners, and note 3, above, and Gerry’s 16 June 1784 letter to JA in Smith, Letters of Delegates, 21:685–687.
4. It is unclear to which of Robert R. Livingston’s several directives concerning the content of JA’s correspondence Gerry is referring. On 20 Nov. 1781 Livingston wrote that “your letters leave us in the dark relative to the views and principles of each party [Patriot and Anglomane], which is no small inconvenience to us, as we know not how to adapt our measures to them.” More confrontational, and likely more disturbing to JA, were Livingston’s comments in his letter of 5 March 1782. There he wrote “but, Sir, tho’ your letters detail the politicks of the Country, tho’ they very ably explain the nature and general principles of the Government, they leave us in the dark with respect to more important facts. . . . You have not introduced us to any of the leading Members of the great Council. You have not repeated your private conversations with them, from which infinitely more is to be collected than from all the Pamphlets scattered about the streets of Amsterdam.” Livingston noted in particular that “none of your letters take the least notice of the french Ambassador at the Hague, is there no intercourse between you? If not, to what is it to be attributed?” (vol. 12:74, 296).
5. There is no indication that Gerry or anyone else offered such a resolution.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0218

Author: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1784-01-14

From Arthur Lee

[salute] Dear Sir.

The Ratification having this day, the first on which nine States were represented, been unanimously passed; a special Messenger will be immediately dispatchd with it which gives me an opportunity of writing a few words to you which may arrive speedily & safely.
The department of foreing Affairs being not yet filld, the business is of course in disorder & neglected. The arrangement of that department, & the appointment of a Minister to England, will soon be taken up. I cannot say who will be chosen Secretary for foreign Affairs; but I think you stand fairest for the Embassy to the Court of St. James.1 Dr. F. has desird leave to resign unless his grandson is appointed Minister to some Court. Neither of these things has been yet noticd. The latter I beleive will hardly be agreed to.2 The resignation many desire to accept, & if it can be carried Mr. Jay’s merit, will probably place him in the old man’s place. We are sensible that to the firmness & integrity of yourself & of the former Gentleman, we owe the peace, the good conditions, & our escape from the snares of an artful friend. Snares infinitly more dangerous to the Independence, honor & happiness of the U. S. than the arms of the most powerful Enemy can ever be.
{ 451 }
Powers to you Mr Jay & Dr. F. (provided he remains) will be sent, I beleive, soon, constituting you joint negociators of treaties with such Nations as may propose to be so connected with us. The present Express goes so instantaneously that it cannot as I wishd be done in time for him.
The 5 Pr Ct. Impost gains ground but Connecticut & Rhode Island seem very little disposd to it as yet. The Commutation or halfpay to the Army is strongly remonstrated against by the former. Virginia has passed an Act for ceding all the ultramontane Country, northwest of the Ohio, to the U. S.3 This is the fund on which I rely for the payment of our public debt, & supporting the future expence of the Union. The finest & most fertile Country in the world, if properly managd will be a source of wealth to the U. S. superior to that of any Power upon Earth. The Officers of our late Army, have constituted themselves a perpetual Body under the title of Cincinnati. Genl. Washington is at their head. It gives alarm to the People, & this seems to increase. To one of your discernment it is unnecessary to say what may probably be the consequences of such an Association. It is conjecturd that the french are at the bottom of it. What intentions some may have in it, I will not conjecture; but very manifestly it may be productive of Monar[chy] in this Country.
If you think it will be acceptable to Mr. Jay, I shoud wish you to make my respects to him. His conduct abroad has given me the highest opinion of his abilities & virtue.
Col. Harmar (who is sent with the Ratification) is a gentleman of very approvd integrity, & on whom you may rely shoud you want a person of such a character.
[signed] AL.
P.S. Mr. Dana arrivd at Boston from Petersbourg a few weeks since
P.S. I presume you have heard that Dr. F. has written to Congress against you. His enmity you cannot be a stranger to, & you will be inducd to dispise this effort of it, when I assure you it, has no manner of effect. It is however justice due to him to say that he allows you to be sensible & honest.4
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr Lee 14. Jan. 1784 / ansd 6 April. / recd 5.th. / Arthur Lee.” Filmed at 14 Jan. 1783. Some loss of text where the seal was removed.
1. Congress appointed John Jay secretary for foreign affairs on 7 May but did not appoint JA minister to Great Britain until 24 Feb. 1785 (JCC, 26:355; 28:98).
2. Benjamin Franklin offered his resignation several times, most notably in letters to the president of Congress or Robert R. Livingston of 12 March 1781, 5 Dec. 1782, 22 July { 452 } 1783, and, in a letter not yet received by Congress, 26 Dec. 1783 (Franklin, Papers, 34:446–447; 38:416–417; Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 6:585–586, 746–747). Congress did not approve Franklin’s return until 7 March 1785 (JCC, 28:122). For Franklin’s efforts to convince Congress to provide a diplomatic post for William Temple Franklin, see Samuel Osgood’s letter of 7 Dec. 1783, and note 20, above.
3. On 20 Oct. the Va. General Assembly voted to cede its land claims northwest of the Ohio River to the United States, and on 1 March 1784, Congress accepted title to the land. The significance of Virginia’s cession was that it, together with those by other states, permitted Congress to begin efforts to organize and administer the territory. The most important result of this effort was the adoption of the 1787 Northwest Ordinance (JCC, 26:112–117; 32:334–343).
4. Lee refers to Franklin’s criticism of JA in his 22 July 1783 letter to Robert R. Livingston, as being “in some things absolutely out of his senses.” For the full quotation and its origins, see the Editorial Note to the commissioners’ 18 July letter to Livingston, above. The only previous letter in this volume to mention Franklin’s charge was James Warren’s of 27 Oct., and note 4, above. But see also AA’s letter of 15 Dec., with which she enclosed an extract from Franklin’s letter, AFC, 5:278–282.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0219

Author: Osgood, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1784-01-14

From Samuel Osgood

[salute] Sir.—

I had the Pleasure of seeing Mr. Thaxter your late Private Secretary at Philadelphia.— Congress were then on their Way to this Place— He being anxious to return to Masstts. it was not tho’t expedient for him to come on here, as he delivered his Dispatches to the President of Congress in Philadela. & as it did not seem probable that Congress would be soon assembled at this Place.— This is the first Day we have had nine States assembled.— About fifteen Days since, having then no Prospect of nine States, it was moved that seven States should proceed to ratify the Definitive Treaty— The Competency of seven States, was urged upon these Grounds, that Nine States had ratified the Provisional Treaty, the Articles of which constituted the definitive. That Nine States did in October last instruct our Ministers commissioned to make Peace to adopt the Provisional Articles as a definitive Treaty unless farther Advantages for the United States could be obtain’d.— That the Ratification had become mere Matter of Form— That seven States might expedite it & the United States would be bound thereby.— That the Time for exchanging Ratifications would expire on the 3d of March That if not exchanged on or before that Time, the Provisional Treaty would be at an End, & it would be in the Option of G. B.n after that Time to accept it, or not as she should think proper. These Assertions, excepting the Matters of Fact, were very warmly opposed—& Congress being pretty equally divided—the Matter was of Course delayed till { 453 } this Day— I hope Colo. Hermer who is entrusted with the Ratification will arrive before the Time expires for exhanging it.—2
In some of your Letters you seem to be in Opinion that there is an absolute Necessity of braceing up the Confederation That Funds are necessary for supporting the Credit of the United States— I cannot collect your Ideas precisely— But I am apprehensive that if you were here, you would find it very difficult to establish Funds that would not have a Tendency to destroy the Liberties of this Country.— Our Embarassments are very great— Our Danger lies in this— That if permanent Funds are given to Congress, the aristocratical Influence, which predominates in more than a Major Part of the United States will finally establish an arbitrary Government in the United States— I do most heartily wish there was no continental Treasury & that our Debt was equitably divided among the several States.— In the Way of this, lays our foreign Debt—perhaps it would be better to establish Funds for this alone.— But it is impossible to say what the States will do as to Funds— Congress have none as yet & I am apprehensive they will not have any permanent ones— many of the States are very Jealous.— Every State imagines or pretends to imagine that they have very large Demands against the United States— The Accounts are unadjusted & I fear it is the Policy of some States to keep them forever in that Situation.— This becomes every Day more & more serious— Our State is very deeply interested in it.— She is now uneasy about it & that Uneasiness must encrease—for her Delegates however powerful & Eloquent will never be able, to argue the Money out of the Pockets of the Citizens of another State into those of our own—At least appearances are against it at present Time will discover whether our Union is natural; or rather whether the Dispositions & Views of the several Parts of the Continent are so similar as that they can & will be happy under the same Form of Government.— There is too much Reason to beleive they are not—
I have been in Congress sometime & intend to leave it forever in four or five Weeks—3 I have not done myself the Honor to write you from Time to Time; for which Omission I hold myself inexcuseable— Tho I don’t know of any Information I could have communicated, which would have essentially altered any Thing— I have seen the Days of Servility, if not of Corruption & I weep over them.—
Congress, I think will certainly adjourn the Beginning of May next to the first Monday in November following4 The Business has { 454 } greatly diminished since Peace took Place There are a few Objects of great Magnitude which require the Assent of Nine States.— Our Army is dismissed saving about five hundred Men— It now remains with Congress to determine whether they will maintain any Men at the Expence of the United States— The Question has been warmly debated in Congress—but no Decision— The Opponents say that the Confederation gives Congress no Power to keep up Troops in a Time of Peace— There is an inconquerable Aversion in many to any Thing that looks like a standing Army in Time of Peace— They will therefore have no Nest Egg. & why may not every State provide for its own Garrisons— The Confederation speaks this Language.— The Question will not obtain in the present Congress.— The Civil List must be put upon a new footing before Congress Adjourn— A very important Report respecting the future Negociations with the Indians is now before Congress & will require very close Attention This is a very delicate Business as it respects the several States I expect N—— Y——k will purchase all our western Territory of the Indians, before we know it— They are really to cunning for M——tts in Matters of Land.—5
A general Plan for entering into Commercial Treaties must be matured & adopted before the Recess.— And I think by the present Appearance in Congress the Interest of the United States will be the governing Principle Last November bro’t about a capital Revolution in Congress the Limitation of three Years, struck off a Number indeed all the prime Actors in the late strange & unnatural System of our foreign Affairs.— Our State have instructed us to urge a new Arrangement of the Office of Finance— They seem to apprehend that such an Office in the Hands of one Person is incompatible with the Liberties of this Country— A Board in Commission is their Object.— The one & the other have very weighty Objections— I wish there was no Occasion for either. I understand the united Netherlands have no public Chest.—
Our late Officers having formed themselves into a Society by the Name of the Cincinnati— The Institution begins to be attended to & by many judicious Persons it is thot that in Time it will be very dangerous— It is suggested that the Idea did not originate on this Side the Atlantic—Latet Anguis in Herba.—6 surely this Country will not consent to a Race of Hereditary Patricians.— There are many others besides the Officers whose Names ought & will be immortalized for their Conduct during the late War.—
If you should receive a long Letter, the Writer desires you to { 455 } consider that the first Sheet was not intended for you—7 The short Notice he had of this Opportunity did not permit him to Copy it— He was obliged to send it in the present Form or not at all— The Beginning of it will be unintelligible With very great Respect / I am Sir Your most humble Servt.
[signed] Samuel Osgood
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency J Adams.—”; endorsed: “Mr Osgoods Letter / recd 5 April. 1783.” Filmed at 14 Dec. 1783.
1. JA did not send a reply to this letter until 30 June 1784 (LbC, APM Reel 107), but see note 1 to Osgood’s letter of 7 Dec. 1783, above.
2. With only seven of the nine states needed to ratify the definitive treaty present, Congress on 23 Dec. 1783 passed a resolution calling on absent members to hasten to Annapolis or risk missing a 3 March 1784 deadline for the exchange of ratifications in Europe. For the next three weeks a vociferous debate ensued about whether members should ratify with only seven states present. Thomas Jefferson was opposed, drafting a resolution on [27 Dec.] 1783 stating that a seven-state ratification would constitute a “breach of faith in us, a prostitution of our seal, and a future ground, when that circumstance shall become known, of denying the validity of a ratification.” Members were nearing a compromise that would have dispatched a provisional ratification to Europe, when the arrival of delegates from Connecticut and South Carolina on 13 and 14 Jan. 1784 allowed the immediate and unanimous ratification by nine states. The treaty reached Europe more than three weeks past the deadline, but the British took no notice and exchanged ratifications at Paris on 12 May (JCC, 25:836–837; Jefferson, Papers, 6:424–426; Morris, Peacemakers, p. 447–448).
3. Samuel Osgood’s career in Congress ended with his final vote on 1 March despite an appointment that lasted until 1 November. During March members debated whether Osgood should be excluded from further service owing to a three-year term limitation in the Articles of Confederation. A resolution barring him from further service failed to pass on 23 March, but Osgood nevertheless departed Annapolis in early April (Biog. Dir. Cong.; JCC, 26:120–121, 136–137, 156–160; Smith, Letters of Delegates, 21:434–435, 485, 519).
4. Congress remained in session until 3 June and reassembled in Trenton, N.J., on 1 Nov. (JCC, 27:555–556, 641).
5. Osgood refers to the report and its supplement, approved on 15 Oct. 1783, that set down the parameters for negotiations with the Native American tribes in the middle and northern departments (JCC, 25:680–693). As Osgood notes, the principal issue for Massachusetts was the effect of the instructions on its western land claims vis-à-vis New York, a concern that the Massachusetts delegation expressed in a 16 Oct. letter to the General Court (Smith, Letters of Delegates, 21:67–68). But Congress also resolved on 15 Oct. “that the preceding measures of Congress relative to Indian affairs, shall not be construed to affect the territorial claims of any of the states, or their legislative rights within their respective limits” (JCC, 25:693).
6. A snake in the grass.
7. While Osgood may have intended the first page of the 7 Dec. letter, above, for some otherwise unidentified correspondent, the remaining pages clearly were intended for JA.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0220

Author: President of Congress
Author: Mifflin, Thomas
Recipient: American Peace Commissioners
Date: 1784-01-14

The President of Congress to the American Peace Commissioners

[salute] Gentlemen,

This Day, nine States being represented in Congress, Vizt: Massachussetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, { 456 } Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina & South Carolina, together with one Member from New Hampshire and one Member from New-Jersey, The Treaty of Peace was ratified by the Unanimous Vote of the Members; This being done, the Congress by an unanimous Vote, ordered a Proclamation to be issued, enjoyning the strict and faithful Observance thereof; and published an earnest Recommendation to the several States in the very Words of the 5th Article— They have likewise resolved, that the Ratification of the Definitive Treaty of Peace between the United States & Great Britain be transmitted, with all possible Dispatch, under the Care of a faithful Person, to our Ministers in France, who have negotiated the Treaty; to be exchanged; & have appointed Colonel Josiah Harmar to that Service. He will have the Honor of delivering to you the Ratification; together with Copies of the Proclamation of Congress2 and of their Recommendation to the States conformably to the 5th. Article.3
I take the Liberty of recommending Colonel Harmar to you as a brave and deserving officer, and am, with the highest Respect and Esteem, / Gentlemen, / Your obedient, and / most humble Servant
[signed] (signed) Thomas Mifflin.
RC and enclosures (Adams Papers); internal address: “To the honourable / John Adams / Benja Franklin / John Jay, & / Henry Laurens / Esquires—”; endorsed: “President Mifflins / Letter / Jan. 14. 1784.”
1. Charles Thomson, the secretary of Congress, had written to the commissioners on 5 Jan. to announce that the definitive treaty had arrived. He noted, however, that the difficulty in assembling a quorum of nine states, owing in part to the weather, was delaying its ratification (Smith, Letters of Delegates, 21:262).
2. For Congress’ 14 Jan. proclamation of the treaty, see JCC, 26:29–30.
3. For Congress’ unanimous 14 Jan. resolution recommending that the states conform to the terms of Art. 5 relating to loyalists and their property, the language of which is quoted in the resolution, see JCC, 26:30–31.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0221

Author: Carmichael, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1784-01-15

From William Carmichael


[salute] Sir

Mr Barry delivered me some days ago your Excellencys favor of the 20th Novr. at the Same time he put into my hands Mr Ficths Note which I own surprized me greatly—1 The Warmth of Mr Barrys heart led him to exagerate the civilities I showed him which proceeded in the first instance from the manner in which your Excy recommended him to me— These are Duties which admit of no { 457 } recompense, or the pleasure which we have in fulfilling them is totally destroyed— In a word I must make a return equal to the Value of the present made me— This is a circumstance far from being agreable, for it was a purchase which I should not have made. Your Excy will pardon me for taking the Liberty to request that you would endeavor to Learn the price of the Watch. The Makers name is Ths. Hawkins and the Case has the Coat of Arms and the Motto of the Hindford Family engraved on it—2
I find myself in precisely the Same Situation of which your Excy complains. I have had but two letters in 15 Months from Congress— I am determined not to remain much longer in Europe, if I have not the means of rendering my country the Services that it has a right to demand from those whom it pays— In the month of Septr I advised Congress of the Appointment of a Minister from this Court to the States & that he would not proceed thither unless one in the Character of Minister from America should be named for this place— I have no answer to my letters—3 Perhaps the Idea of the Gentlemen you mention not to have any Ministers in Europe, may have taken place— If we are to have Ministers in the Different countries with which we shall have Treaties, The expence of our department for Foreign Affairs will be heavy—
At Present they think here that in General the Americans are averse to this Nation— I beleive this opinion arises from the Advices they receive from England & by the representations of Persons who wish to inspire such Ideas— There are no complaints made against our Countrymen, for smuggling— The French and English are accused of pushing the Contraband business to a higher point than ever since the peace— This will occasion a stop to be put to all open & direct Intercourse between The Spanish French & English Islands, except with the Isle of Trinity4 to which certain previledges are accorded— The Bank established here in the course of last year has yeilded more than five pr Ct. in nine months to the Accionists—5 It will probably have the exclusive right for the extraction of Dollars— Next Month a fleet is expected from Vera Cruz with 20 million of Pesos in Specie besides the valuable produce of that part of the World— I shall esteem it as a very great favor & honor, if your Excy would have the goodness to write me a few Lines whenever you receive news from America that can be communicated with propriety in this Mode of Correspondence With the highest Sentiments of respect I have the honor to be / Your Excellencys / Most Obedt Humble Sert
[signed] Wm. Carmichael
{ 458 }
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr Charmichael / 15. Jan 1784. / ansd 22. of April.”
1. JA had written to Carmichael, John Jay’s secretary who was then acting in the role of chargé d’affaires at Madrid in Jay’s absence, on 18 June 1783 to introduce a “Mr Barry” (LbC, APM Reel 108; DAB). Nothing further is known about Barry.
2. Thomas Hawkins was a watchmaker at the Royal Exchange in London who had been in business since 1777. Eliphalet Fitch likely sent a watch decorated with the Hyndford coat of arms because he suspected that a connection might exist between Carmichael and the family of John Carmichael, created first Earl of Hyndford in 1701. The arms of that family are described as argent, a fesse tortilé azure and gules, with a crest featuring an arm in armor, embowed, holding a broken spear, all proper. The family motto was “Toujours prest,” or “Always ready.” There is no known close connection between the titled family and Carmichael, the son of a Scottish immigrant to Maryland (Catalogue of the Museum of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers of London, 2d edn., London, 1902, p. 56; DNB; DAB; Thomas Robson, The British Herald; or, Cabinet of Armorial Bearings of the Nobility and Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland, 3 vols., Sunderland, England, 1830).
In his reply of 22 April 1784 (LbC, APM Reel 107), JA sympathized with Carmichael’s concern over the value of Fitch’s gift and his evident desire to reciprocate. He noted that Fitch, upon sailing for Jamaica, sent him “a Present of choice old Madeira Wine and Jamaica Spirit” in return for JA’s kindnesses. JA indicated that he had not considered refusing the gift and advised Carmichael to “keep the Watch untill you see Mr Fitch or give it away to a Friend. never trouble your head to send him any equivalent. rather Send him back the Watch itself. But I dont think that is worth while.”
3. Within the time span indicated by Carmichael, the PCC includes letters that Robert R. Livingston had written on 28 Nov. 1782 and 7 May 1783 (Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 6:88–89, 408–409). For the same period there are twelve letters from Carmichael, but none since 30 August. No letter dated in Sept. has been found, but Carmichael’s letter of 30 Aug. gave an account of his presentation to Charles III on 23 Aug. and reported that the king had appointed a minister to the United States, the 24-year-old Marqués de Múzquiz, son of the Spanish finance minister (same, 6:663–667). But, in fact, no minister was sent. The first official Spanish diplomatic representative was Diego de Gardoqui, who arrived in May 1785 with the rank of “Plenipotentiary Chargé des Affaires” (Repertorium, 3:445; JCC, 28:402).
4. Trinidad.
5. Charged with procuring supplies for the Spanish Army and Navy, the Bank of San Carlos was allowed a 10 percent profit on its expenditures. In his 30 Dec. 1782 letter to Livingston, Carmichael gave an account of the bank’s organizational meeting and indicated that it was to commence operations in April 1783 (same, 6:184–187). The “Accionists” were the shareholders.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0222

Author: Staphorst, Nicolaas van
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1784-01-16

From Nicolaas van Staphorst

[salute] Sir

I take the liberty in consequence of our conversation of yesterday evening with two Gentlement of the Council, commissaries in the Business of our claim to the Regency, to request your Excellency that you’ll be so kind to come at my house this morning at eleven o Clock, where you’ll also find Mr. Willink, and when we’ll communicate to your Excellency the proposals of said two members of the council, and perhaps be desired to have an enterview with them at the Stadhouse.1 I beg to let me know in answer wether I shall have { 459 } the honour to receive your Exce. at the stipulated hour, at my house, near the Beulingstraat, and am with much respect / Sir / Your most obedt. Servt
[signed] Nics. van Staphorst.
1. JA arrived at The Hague on Sunday, 12 Jan., and on Wednesday the 15th went to Amsterdam to meet with the bankers (JQA to Peter Jay Munro, 16 Jan., NNMus). The possibility of turning to the Regency of Amsterdam for assistance with the financial crisis facing the United States had been raised in the consortium’s letter of 23 Dec. 1783 and that of 26 Dec. from Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, both above. JA presumably met with the agents of the regency but to no avail, as he indicates in his 24 Jan. 1784 letter to Benjamin Franklin, below.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0223

Author: Cranch, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1784-01-17

From John Cranch

[salute] Sir;

I have never found so much difficulty in prevailing upon myself to do any indifferent action, as in this of convincing myself that it is not too great a presumption to address a few lines to you, with the little present of game which will wait your acceptance about the same instant:1 In truth I could willingly have sent the gift, without at all disclosing the giver, could I, at the same time, have been less sensible of that awkward distress which the ingenerous mind ever feels, on finding itself obliged to an unknown benefactor; and it is upon this consideration, Sir, added to the faith which the whole world warrants me to place in that candour and liberality of Sentiment which illustrate the solid parts of your great character, that I am induced to avail myself of the same oppertunity to profess the duty and respect I owe to you, both as my relation,2 and as the most eminent patriot and statesman of the age:
But Sir, I may not thus trespass on your delicacy or your time: Suffer me only to intreat that you will have the goodness not to reject my humble present; nor, if possible, this my still humbler overture towards obtaining the honor of being known to you; and permit me to add, that if I can render you any service during your stay in Europe, I shall esteem it no less a pleasure to execute, than an honor to receive, any commands you may think proper to oblige me with.
I am, most respectfully, and with best wishes for your good health & welfare, / Sir / Your obedient / Humble Servant
[signed] John Cranch.
{ 460 }
P.s. As I cannot repress the vanity of imagining that you may possibly think me not unworthy of some slight inquiry, it is expedient I should request you to direct any letter you may be pleased to favor me with, “To mr. Cranch, an attorney, at Axminster, in Devonshire;”—and any question concerning my character or situation, to my agent mr. Harrison senr. to be heard of at his son’s chambers in Barnard’s Inn.
I have a strong inclination (but, without your permission, cannot presume so far) to send you a copy of an interesting letter that I have received by this day’s post from a friend of mine just settled in Cascobay: By “interesting” I would be understood to mean peculiarly so to yourself, as a principal guardian and patron of the interests of the illustrious Republic:3
[signed] J. Cr
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr John Cranch / Axminster in Devon- / shire. 17. Jan. ansd 31. 1784.”
1. With this letter Cranch sent a basket containing two hares, for which see John Stockdale’s letter of 20 Jan., below. Cranch continued his contributions of food for the Adamses’ table when they took up residence in London following JA’s appointment as minister to Great Britain (AFC, 6:382–383; 8:31).
2. At this point Cranch inserted an asterisk in reference to a note in the left margin: “Mr. Cranch of Braintree is my uncle.”
3. JA requested a copy of the letter in his reply of 31 Jan., below, and received it as an enclosure to Cranch’s letter of 11 Feb. (Adams Papers). The letter was from Thomas Hopkins, who wrote from Falmouth, Mass. (now Portland, Maine). Hopkins had first gone to Boston and Braintree, where he met Richard Cranch, who recommended that he go to Falmouth in pursuit of his business interests. Hopkins’ letter is a commentary on the opportunities for Anglo-American trade, the unfortunate policies leading to Britain’s loss of its American colonies, and the bright prospects for the new nation.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0224

Author: Heyman, Herman
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1784-01-17

From Herman Heyman

[salute] Sir.

I had the satisfaction to lay before Your Exellency by the Letter, I took the Liberty to address your Exellency the 31 July last, a Plan of a Glass Manufactory which I intended to Establish in one of the United Provinces of Nord America for your Consideration and beg’d most Humbly from Your Exellency the favor to grant me your Skilful Advise on that head, but am hetherto deprived of the honour to receive any Reply from Your Exellency, but this does not prevent me to venture again to address of Your Exellency a second Letter, flattering myself that what ever concerns the Prosperity and Extension of Your good Country will be agreabel received from Your Exellency and there fore have the honour to inform you that three other { 461 } Gentlemen with me Considered most Earnestly on that Plan all the time since and taking every things back and forwards find that it can’t but be very avantageous as well to Your good Country, as likewise to the Concerners to Errect a Glass Manufactory in some part of the United States, and we chased Maryland to be the properest Country for it, beeing a spot of Land where by all the Discription we Read it groes the most plenty of Wood, one of my three friends Mr. John fried: Amelong who had the Manage of a Glass manufactory here in Germany will go himself in the spring by the first Vessell over to Baltimore and take the Direction of the intended Establishing Glass-Manufactory, he Carries besides him 80 more families all Experiented to our purpose in the Vessell for Baltimore,2
I can’t but Expect that our Ardent wishes to encrease our Connection with the United States can’t but be satisfactory to Your Exellency, and this gives me the agreabel Aspects that you’ll grant us Your Kind Assistance and Protection in our Undertaking, and inform us to who our friend Mr. Amelong must make his first Aplication at Baltimore or in the State of Maryland, to Errect the Manufactory and to receive some part of Land fit for the Establishment directed and Your Exellence Opinion would be the best Guide for us if we may Expect that Government will grant us every Assistance and give certain Priviledges, and a part of Land at rent to it, or if we must purchase the latter and perhaps not find the Reception to full fill our wishes, and according as such Considerabel Undertaking merits, I can’t but expect it by what I Know that the Congress wishes are to enlarge, and Populate the United States and I am assured Our small transport or may I call it establishing Colonie will give both Pleasure to the Congress and Honnor to us, as they are all People of the best Conduct Virtue, and understanding, and not like many others which [. . .] in America, beeing Rejected in Germany, I shall there[fore] most Humbly beg from Your Exellency the favor to grant our Mr. Amelong some of the best Letters of Introduction & Recommandation for the states of Maryland that he may meet a agreabel Reception, and not be detained at his arrival to bring our Speculation to an Accomplishment and Perfection, and through this exposed to a very Considerabel loss by mentaining the many families with out Emploiing them to our Intention
Give me leave to assure your Exellency of my most devoted Respects and of my sincere Regard with I have the honnour to Remain / Sir / Your most Obedt humbl Servt.
[signed] Herman Heyman
{ 462 }
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To / his Excellency John Adams Esq / Ambassador of the 13 United / States of Nord America / residing at the / Hague”; endorsed: “Mr Herman Heyman / ansd Jan. 30. 1784.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.
1. On 19 Jan., Heyman wrote a nearly identical letter to Benjamin Franklin and for the same reason (PPAmP:Franklin Papers). That is, Franklin had not yet replied to his previous letter of 31 July 1783.
2. John Frederick Amelung (1741–1798) is one of the most noted early American glassmakers. Having previously worked at his brother’s mirror-glass factory in Grünenplan, Germany, Amelung sailed for America in 1784 with 68 German glassmakers and associated equipment. He established his glass-house near Frederick, Md., calling it the New Bremen Glassmanufactory. There he produced window glass and other products, but he is best known for his signed and dated engraved presentation pieces. Following a stroke in 1794, he ceased his glassmaking activities, and in 1795 he went bankrupt (Grove Dicy. of Art). In his pamphlet, Remarks on Manufactures, Principally on the New Established Glass-House, Near Frederick-Town, in the State of Maryland [Frederick, Md.], 1787, Evans, No. 20189, Amelung gave a brief history of glassmaking and the establishment of his factory and, as Heyman did, sought public support for the undertaking. There Amelung also noted that he went to America with letters of recommendation from JA and Franklin to leading figures in Maryland. In JA’s case this probably refers to his 30 Jan. 1784 reply to Heyman, below, which JA said Amelung could take with him as an introduction.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0225

Author: Thaxter, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1784-01-19

From John Thaxter

[salute] Dear Sir,

’Tis two Months this day since I arrived at New York— I delivered the Treaty & Dispatches on the 22d. Novr. to General Mifflin, the President of Congress, then at Philadelphia— One delay & another prevented my reaching home ’till the middle of December— I am ashamed that I have omitted writing so long—but Visits & Sickness have prevented.—
Mr. Gerry wrote you so largely upon the general state of Affairs & the projects of Parties that I could have nothing to add— He wrote in November by Mr. Reed of Philadelphia—since which time I have not heard a syllable from Congress or any of its Members.—1
The Impost recommended by Congress & the Commutation with the Officers of the Army have not as yet met with the Approbation of the States of Connecticut & Rhode Island— ’Tis very probable however that Connecticut will soon consent to the Impost & make Provision for the Officers— I was told so at least— Rhode Island must then fall in— ’Tis rather unfortunate, that these Matters have been so long delayed,—or that some new plan has not been adopted— Because it renders very precarious the punctual payment of the Interest of our foreign Debts, & keeps in an unhappy Suspence a Class of Men to whom the different States are indebted— I { 463 } mean our Officers— But all will go right in time— Our Countrymen commonly feel right—& will act right; but chuse to take their own time.
Various Opinions are entertained respecting the Cincinnati—Some think it will tumble of itself—others the reverse—some suppose it the Child of Resentment—the fruit of a supposed Neglect of the Army.— ’Tis most certainly an Institution without the Sanction of the Confederacy or any particular State— Whether it is a domestic or foreign Plant I know not—but it may become a very rank & poisonous Weed in the state Garden. ’Tis planned upon a great Scale—its honors are hereditary; but only in the Families of the Officers— Foreigners may be admitted as honorary Members. I don’t see either its Necessity or Utility— One of its Objects is the support of the exalted Rights of human Nature— It is very melancholy indeed, if, just after a Revolution, one of whose professed Objects was the Recovery and Establishment of the Rights of America, a Society, consisting of Military Characters & subjects of an absolute Monarchy, should become necessary for the further support & Maintenance of those Rights.— I wish well to our officers, believe them very deserving— I am confident they spurn the Idea of an Injury to America— But what their successors may be, ought not to be trusted to Chance, nor should they have it in their Power by any Institution to become dangerous to Society.— If my Ideas are wrong, I wish to be corrected & set right— I speak but for myself.— I think I have seen enough of hereditary honors & distinctions to convince me they are hereditary Poisons.—
The Judges of our supreme Court put on their Robes next Term— and the Barristers their Gowns—2 The Court have lately made some new Barristers—Mr. Morton, I think, is the youngest.3 I mean to attend the next Session, which will be in February—& in the Spring to quit this County. The Bar is now crouded, & more are coming on— I am fortunate in being single, & hope to scrabble at least as a Batchelor— A single Man, if industrious, need not starve in our Country.—
I forwarded your Letter to our Governor, & have since had the honor of paying my Respects to him— He recieved & treated me politely—mentioned the Contents of your Letter & wished to render me every Service in his Power.— You will permit me here, Sir, to express again my sincere thanks to you for the friendly Letters you have written in my behalf—4 I wish my Merit was equal to your { 464 } favorable Opinion. Whatever it may be in a political view is the fruit of your excellent Example & Instruction— Your different Negotiations were admirable Lessons in Politicks to me. I shall ever consider myself as having been highly benefited in falling under your Tuition both in Law & Politicks— My Improvements were not equal to my Advantages— I am not blind to my Infirmities— I boast only of my Fidelity while connected with you & employed in the Service.
I had the pleasure of seeing Mrs. A. & Daughter very well last Evening on my Return from Boston— They propose to join you in the Spring. I wish you that Happiness most sincerely— They have acted very wisely in putting off their Embarkation ’till the Spring— Winter Passages are commonly rough & unpleasant.—
You will hear of the Death of Dr. Cooper before this reaches you— ’Tis a great loss to the Parish & Town— I found that I brôt a Letter for him from Dr. F—but it was inclosed to a Gentleman in Philadelphia, ’tho I was bound directly to Boston5 Dr. F derived his Information, I fancy, respecting the Reports that prevailed about him in the Negotiation for Peace, from Coll: Q— I am told he wrote the Dr. about them, & enquired if they were true?— He wrote the Dr. fully, what was said about him here— It was very natural for one so anxiously concerned for the Reputation of his Friend—6
I hope something considerable will be done in the Fisheries this year— Ship building is carried on briskly— Three Vessells are fitting out for China— This discovers an enterprizing Spirit—but will carry off too many hard Dollars.—
I am very happy to hear that you have so well recovered of your Fever— Accept, Sir, my best Wishes for a Continuation of your Health— Please to present my most respectful Compliments to Mr. Jay & Lady—& affectionate Regards to Master John.
With the greatest Respect, Sir, / your most humble Servant.
[signed] J. T.
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excelly. Mr. Adams.”; endorsed: “Mr Thaxter / 19. Jan. 1784.”
1. From Elbridge Gerry, 23 Nov. 1783, above.
2. The use of English-style attire in Massachusetts courts was discontinued during the Revolution but briefly resumed in the postwar years. The Supreme Judicial Court opened on 17 Feb. 1784 with a procession of judges in scarlet robes and barristers in black silk gowns. The Boston Continental Journal viewed the ceremony as a patriotic occasion: “Some British Officers who were in town, it is said, muttered invidious expressions on this occasion, and have since secreted themselves to avoid that resentment which their impotent malice would have certainly brought on them from a spirited populace!” The use of a tertiary system in which Massachusetts lawyers were styled “attorney” { 465 } for their first two years of practice, “counselor” for their next two years, and “barrister” thereafter was discontinued after the 1784 ceremony (Boston Continental Journal, 19 Feb.; Arthur M. Alger, “Barristers at Law in Massachusetts,” NEHGR, 31:206–208 [April 1877]).
3. Thirty-two-year-old Boston lawyer Perez Morton was among those graduating to the rank of barrister in the 17 Feb. ceremony (Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, 17:555–557).
4. JA wrote to John Hancock on 5 Sept. 1783, introducing Thaxter and stating further that “His Behavior has been uniformly agreable to me, & his Industry, Fidelity & Zeal exemplary and uncommon” (LbC, APM Reel 108). He wrote similar recommendations to the president of Congress on 1 and 14 Sept., Elbridge Gerry on 6 and 8 Sept., Robert Morris on 14 Sept., and Benjamin Rush on 14 Sept., all above. Thaxter was familiar with the content of at least the Gerry letters, as the 6 Sept. Letterbook copy and the 8 Sept. recipient’s copy are in his hand.
5. Thaxter carried Benjamin Franklin’s “too long letter . . . respecting Mr. A.’s calumnies,” not found, to which Franklin referred in his 26 Dec. letter to Samuel Cooper (DLC:Franklin Papers). For more on the correspondence between Franklin and Cooper concerning JA’s criticism of Franklin’s conduct during the Anglo-American peace negotiations, see Franklin’s letter of 10 Sept., and note 1, above.
6. Thaxter also carried Franklin’s 11 Sept. letter to Col. Josiah Quincy of Braintree (Franklin, Writings, 9:93–96). Franklin was belatedly replying to Quincy’s letters of 25 May and 17 Dec. 1781, neither of which has been found. Franklin there mentions recent criticism of his actions as peace commissioner, but his comments seem to indicate that Quincy in 1781 was concerned about Franklin’s involvement in JA’s conflict with the Comte de Vergennes over Congress’ revaluation of its currency and the execution of his diplomatic mission (vol. 9:427–430, 516–520). Franklin had written to the president of Congress on 9 Aug. 1780, enclosing copies of the correspondence between JA and Vergennes and noting the sharp differences between JA and himself on how to deal effectively with the French government (Franklin, Papers, 33:160–166; Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:18–19). Quincy likely learned of the controversy from copies of Franklin’s letter sent to people in Massachusetts, including AA, or even directly from AA, who was enraged at the aspersions cast by Franklin on her husband (AFC, 4:172–180, 190–193).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0226

Author: Stockdale, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1784-01-20

From John Stockdale

[salute] Sir

(domestic News)
I have received by the packet some Medals inclosed in a Letter directed for You for which I paid 16/8 & shall not open it til I receive Your instructions1
I this day received a Basket sealed up & directed for You, as I suspected it was some sort of Game I resolved in the presence of Dr. John Jebb to commit an act of felony & break the Seals, with an intent for Dr. Jebb to seal it up again with his seal, should it prove to be any thing else,— but as it appear’d to be two fine Hares unaccompanyed with any Letter, I took the liberty to offer one to Dr Jebb in Your name which he very politely refused, desiring me at the same time to remember him to You in the Strongest terms, I am now left in the distrest situation of being oblig’d to eat (with the { 466 } assistance of my little family) both the Hares we shall do ourselves the pleasure after dinner of Drinking, Yours, Your Sons. & familys Good Health in a glass of fine old Madeira, which I had from a friend.—2
(Political News)
Mr. Wm. Pitt rises every day higher in the estimation of the People & no doubt will be minister many Years, this night four of Mr. Fox’s friends in the House of Commons got up & begd. for a Coalition of Parties, which in fact is nothing less than Mr. Fox’s coming on his Knees to Mr Pitt, but you may rely upon it that Mr Pitt will never Join Lord North.—3
A very full Court at the Queens Birth Day Yesterday the Portuguese Ambassador was over turn’d in St. James’s St. in his Carriage but not hurt, but a Gentlemans Servt. who was near had both his legs broke by the accident.—
I am Sir Your much obligd / & very Humble Servant
[signed] J. Stockdale
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “His Excy. John Adams Esqr. / Minister Plenipotentiary from / the United States of America / to the United Provinces of the / Low Countries / Hague”; endorsed: “Mr Stockdale / Jan. 20. ansd 31. 1784.”
1. For the medals, see Jean George Holtzhey’s letter of 5 Dec. 1783, above.
2. For the hares, see John Cranch’s letter of 17 Jan. 1784, above, and JA’s reply to Cranch of 31 Jan., below.
3. Stockdale presumably refers to the Commons debate on 20 Jan. over “Rumours of a Union of Parties.” Parliament was in the midst of a constitutional crisis. William Pitt had taken office on 19 Dec. 1783 because of the India Bill’s defeat in the House of Lords despite having been approved by the House of Commons. The defeat, and thus Pitt’s replacement of the Fox-North coalition, was principally owing to the disclosure of George III’s opposition to the bill. But even after Pitt formed his ministry the faction in Parliament allied to Charles James Fox retained a majority. Thus the Pitt ministry was charged with being the creature of George III, the product of the unconstitutional use of his prerogatives. This resulted on 16 Jan. 1784 in the Commons resolving, by a margin of 205 to 184, “that the appointments of his Majesty’s present ministers were accompanied by circumstances new and extraordinary, and such as do not conciliate or engage the confidence of this House; the continuance of the present ministers in trusts of the highest importance and responsibility, is contrary to constitutional principles, and injurious to the interests of his Majesty and his people.” During the debate on 20 Jan., the substance of which was that there would be no coalition, Fox stated very clearly the fundamental issue that divided him and his party from Pitt: “One set of men think that the opinion of the House of Commons ought not to guide the sovereign in the choice of ministers who may have the confidence of the people; while the other set of men think that no ministry can or ought to stand, but on the confidence and support of the House of Commons. The one party stand upon prerogative, the other upon responsibility and the constitution” (Cannon, Fox-North Coalition, p. 145, 147; Parliamentary Hist., 24:360–392). See also JA’s 14 Dec. 1783 letter to the president of Congress, and note 4, above.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0227

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Date: 1784-01-24

To Benjamin Franklin

[salute] Sir

Desirous of doing all in my Power, to Save Mr Morriss Bills, I determined to go to Amsterdam, and accordingly, Sett off, the Beginning of this Month from London, in a Season too rigorous for Pleasure.— At Harwich we were obliged to wait Several Days for fair Weather, which when it arrived brought us little Comfort as it was very cold And the Wind exactly against Us. The Packetts were obliged to put to Sea and I embarked in one of them. We were more than Three Days in advancing Thirty three Leagues with, So unsteady a Course, and Such a tossing Vessell that We could not keep a fire, the Weather very cold and the Passengers all very Seasick. As We could not, on Account of the great Quantities of Ice upon the Coast, reach Helvoet, We were put on Shore on the Island of Goree, where We got a Boors Wagon1 to carry our Baggage and We walked about Six Miles to the Town of Goree. not finding Iceboats here We were obliged to go in open Boors Waggons across the Island to Middle Harness. Here We were detained Several Days in very bad Lodgings unable to find Boats to carry Us over the Arm of the Sea to Helvoet. at Length Iceboats appeared, and We embarked amidst a Waste of Ice which passed in and out evey day with the Tide, and by the Force of Oars, & Boathooks Sometimes rowing, in the Water, and sometimes dragging on the Ice, which would now & then break & let us down, in the Course of the Day We got over, and thought ourselves lucky, as the last Boat which passed got stuck in the Ice and was carried out with the tide and brought in again, So that they were out from 9 in the Morning to one O Clock the next night before they reached the opposite Shore. We could not reach Helvoet, but landed on the Dyke about two Miles from it, and took Boors Waggons again for the Brille, which We reached at Night. Next Morning We took Ice Boats again to cross another Water obstructed with Ice as before, and then a Third the Maese, which We found Sufficiently frozen to walk over on the Ice. another Boors Waggon carried Us to Delft, and from thence a Coach to the Hague. after the Rest of a day or two I went to Amsterdam.2 Our Bankers had applied to the Regency, and I offered to enter into any reasonable Contract, and to pledge the Faith of the United States for the Performance of it. but all in vain, The Gentlemen of the Regency, Seemed very desirous of doing something for Us, if they { 468 } could. But as usual, they are so afraid of making a Precedent, and that other Powers, as much distressed for money as We, would take Advantage and demand the Same favour, that they dare not, and our Bankers were advised to take back their Application, to avoid a certain decision against Us.— Yesterday I returnd to the Hague.
I Should look back with <Pleasure, upon the> less Chagrin, upon the disagreable Passage from London, if We had Succeeded, in obtaining the Object of it, but I find I am here only to be a Witness that American Credit in this Republick is dead, never to rise again, at least untill the United States Shall all agree upon Some Plan of Revenue, and make it certain that Interest and Principal will be paid. There has Scarcely an Obligation been Sold Since the News of the Mutiny of Soldiers in Philadelphia and the diversity of Sentiments among the States about the Plan of Impost.
I have no Information from Congress or Mr Morris, but am told by our Bankers there are Bills to the Amount of Thirteen hundred Thousand Guilders which must be sent back, a terrible disappointment to great Numbers of People! Some of the Bills become payable, the Beginning of March, and the Rest being much the greatest Part in May.
At Amsterdam I recd the Honour of yours of the 3 of this Month.
LbC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Dr Franklin.”; APM Reel 107.
1. Farm wagon.
2. JA left London on 2 Jan., landed on the island of Goeree on the 8th, reached The Hague on the 11th, and went to Amsterdam on the 14th. The account given here should be compared with that JA compiled in 1812 and published in the Boston Patriot, JA, D&A, 3:152–153, and JQA’s contemporary account in his letters to Peter Jay Munro of 13 and 16 Jan. 1784, NNMus. The Gazette d’Amsterdam of 16 Jan. included a report from The Hague dated two days earlier relating that JA had returned from Paris and London and appeared before the States General to announce that he was again in residence at The Hague. Benjamin Franklin likely first learned of JA’s arrival from C. W. F. Dumas’ letter of 15 Jan., which indicated that JA had reached The Hague and gone to Amsterdam (DLC:Franklin Papers).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0228

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Ridley, Matthew
Date: 1784-01-25

To Matthew Ridley

[salute] Dear Sir

I recd, last Week, at Amsterdam, your Favour of Decr. 27. and Sympathize, most Sincerely with you, in your Affliction but I Still hope, Mrs Ridley will recover.
As an Article in our Confederation, Stipulates, that “no State Shall confer any Title of Nobility” and as the Genius of our { 469 } Governments is averse to all Such Distinctions, I am no Friend to the Errand of Major L’Enfant.1 I wonder, what the Roman, in Heaven, thinks, of the Use We are making of his Name and his Plough! I wonder, whence our Officers derived their Authority, to assume Such Honnours, and to institute Such decorations, without Leave of Congress or the States. if Congress had ordered a Medal to be Struck, and presented to every officer, no Objection would have been made: but the present mode, will, I fear give rise to very disagreable Debates and Dissentions. I have been informed that this whole Scheme, was first concerted, in France and transmitted, from thence, by the Marquis? Is this true or not? It is with Congress and the States to determine, whether it Shall be permitted. to me, it Seems an Inroad upon our Liberties. I dare Say the officers do not consider it, in that Light.2
To my mortification I must inform you, that I despair of doing any Thing to prevent the Bills from going back. I have made a painful Journey to Holland, in Packet Boats, Iceboats and Boors Waggons, in a very Severe Season to do all I could, but I find nothing can be done. I made a Journey last Summer in extream Heat, and another this Winter in extream Cold, both to no Purpose. The Heat cost me a Fever, and the Cold has hurt, my Health, but the greatest Chagrin of all is to find that I wear out, the feeble Remains of me, for nothing. I have but one comforable Reflection, which is, that when the States find their Credit compleatly and certainly undone, they will take effectual Measures to recover it, by establishing a Revenue for the Payment of Interest.
Remember me, respectfully and affectionately to Mrs Barclay, Mrs Ridley and the Children.
How is the Drs Complaint of the Stone, Gravel &c
LbC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mathew Ridley Esq.”; APM Reel 107.
1. The relevant passage in Art. 6, paragraph 1, of the Articles of Confederation reads “nor shall the united states in congress assembled, or any of them, grant any title of nobility.”
2. This is the only extant letter by JA to anyone at Paris in which he criticizes the Society of the Cincinnati, but he was apparently equally unreserved in expressing his opinion of the society in conversations with acquaintances at Amsterdam. For the result of his comments, see the Marquis de Lafayette’s letter of 8 March in which he defended the society against JA’s criticism, Lafayette, Papers, 5:201–203.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0229

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Staphorst, Nicolaas & Jacob van (business)
Recipient: Willink, Wilhem & Jan (business)
Recipient: La Lande & Fynje, de (business)
Date: 1784-01-29

To Wilhem & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, and De la Lande & Fynje

[salute] Gentlemen

when I left Amsterdam, I despaired of doing any Thing to prevent the Bills of Exchange from being Sent back.— It is possible however that Something may have Since happened, to give Us better hopes.— I should be obliged to you, if you would inform me, whether there is yet any Ground to expect any Aid from the venerable Regency of your City, or not. The Commerce of the City is much interested in it: and the City has a Right to do what it will with its own: and therefore no other Power can take Advantage of the Precedent, Since We are not demanding a Right, but requesting a Favour. Surely if the City Sees, that without hurting itself, it can confer a Favour on a Friend, and thereby greatly promote it’s own Commerce, it has a Right to do it, without fearing that other Powers differently circumstanced should claim a like Indulgence.
Since my Return to the Hague, I have reflected as maturely as I can, upon the Proposition of a new Loan, on a different Plan, Suggested in one of your Letters to me in London. It would be with great Reluctance, that I should consent to raise the Interest, but yet I would do it, rather than the Bills should go back.— I therefore request of you Gentlemen to consider of this matter, and consult with the Undertakers, and if you can be Sure of obtaining the Cash to Save the Bills, by a new Plan, I would agree to it. But yet, I could not, I think go beyond Six Per Cent including your Commissions, the two Per Cent to the Undertakers and in short including Interest and all Charges.1
It is neither your Fault nor mine, if We cannot Succeed, yet I should wish to do every Thing in our Power, and I request your Sentiments upon the Subject.— It would be imprudent to talk of a new Plan if We were not previously certain of Success in obtaining the Money.
I have the Honour to be, with Esteem / Gentlemen your most obedient and / most humble servant
LbC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Messrs W. & J. Willink / Nich: & Jacob Van Staphorst / & / De la Lande & Fynje”; APM Reel 107.
1. For the proposed new loan, see the consortium’s letter of 23 Dec. 1783, above. In fact, with the regency’s refusal to become involved, the consortium was apparently already hard at work laying the groundwork for a new loan, for which see their reply of 31 Jan. 1784, below.

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0230

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Heyman, Herman
Date: 1784-01-30

To Herman Heyman

[salute] Sir

I have received the Letter you did me the Honour to write me on the 17. of this Month.
I wish Sincerely well to your Plans of Connection with America, but as they are of a private Nature I have no more Authority to give you Advice or Assistance, than any private Citizen.
I cannot give you any Encouragement, that Congress or the State of Maryland, or any other of the United States, will give you any publick Aid.— The Country is all open to the Enterprizing who, if they can find their Interest in Emigration have full Scope to exert their Skill, Talents & Industry: But the publick will be cautious of interfering.
I would not, on the one hand, discourage your Attempt nor on the other inspire you will false hopes. Your Plan is vast, and the Expence must be very great, So that if you Should not meet with Success the Disappointment might be Serious.— Wood it is true is plenty, but Labour is very dear. There have been Several Attempts to introduce the Manufactory of Glass into America. One at Braintree near Boston, my native Place,1 and one or more, at Philadelphia. These Succeeded to a certain degree, but I believe never made any great Fortune.
If your Friend Mr John Fried. Amelong goes to Maryland I would recommend him to the Civilities of his Excellency the Governor of that State, and any of the Members of their Legislature, and any of the Members of Congress now Sitting at Anapolis. Any of these Personages would have the Goodness to give thier Advice to Mr Amelong, and he may take this Letter with him if you please, as an Introduction. But he must not from thence expect any publick Assistance.2
With great Esteem and Respect &c
LbC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mr Herman Heyman / at Bremen.”; APM Reel 107.
1. JA was well aware of the glassworks that had operated in the Germantown section of Braintree because it had been operated by his own brother-in-law Richard Cranch and Cranch’s brother-in-law Joseph Palmer (AFC, 1:18).
2. There are no extant letters by JA recommending John Frederick Amelung to anyone in Maryland, so it is likely that he carried this letter as an introduction (from Herman Heyman, 17 Jan, and note 2, above).

Docno: ADMS-06-15-02-0231

Author: Reed, Joseph
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1784-01-30

From Joseph Reed

[salute] Sir

Considerations purely of a private Nature having brought me to this Kingdom I take the very first Moments to present your Excelly. my most respectful Regards & to regret that the Length of my Voyage has deprivd me of the Oppy. of doing it personally as I am inform’d you have left this City very lately.1 I also take this Occasion through our respectable Friend Mr. Laurens to forward a Packet which our Friend Gerry with whom I spent the last Day in America intrusted to my Care in so special a Manner that I feel myself particularly happy in forwarding so as to ensure its safe Arrival (very uncommon Accidents excepted).2 As I doubt not he has communicated more perfectly than I can pretend to do the Occurrences of America deserving your Notice, it would be superfluous to repeat what he has said so much better. But as even a Repetition of pleasing Circumstances is not wholly ungrateful to those who feel for the Publick as you do, I think I may venture to assure you that the American Union has been strengthened rather than weakned by the Events of the last Summer. The Removal from Philada. & the prohibitory Restrictions pass’d here have contributed to this, in an eminent Degree & substituted a new Bond of Union to that which the Peace & a Cessation of the Influence of common Danger had in some Measure dissolved. Its Operation in America has very much alarm’d those who though their Bodies are there have Hearts yet in Great Brittain. They have through our publick Papers treated Congress with some indecent Abuse, but it is rather the Ebulletion of disappointed local Party, than the sense of the People. The Operation of these Events is also perceptible on the State of our Funds & we had when I left America more favourable Prospects of their Establishment than at any Period for 12 Months past.— Genl. Washington pass’d thro Philadelphia about the 15 December on his Way to Annapolis where (to use his own Expression) he intended to leave his Coat & Cockade—3
Dr. Witherspoon also arrived in the same Ship but not on any publick political Business he prays me to present his particular Respects. And if we can supply any Information or in any Respect be useful to you, you will please to command us without Reserve pointing out the Channel of Connyance which your own Discernment & better Acquaintance with the Country will suggest.—
{ 473 }
With every Sentiment of Respect & Esteem which I may with the utmost Justice assure you America feels for your Person & Services permit me to add my own in a particular Manner & believe me / with very great Truth & Regard / Dr. Sir / Your Excelly. most Obedt & / very Hbble Servt.
[signed] Jos: Reed
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “His Excelly Mr. Adams”; endorsed: “Mr Reed London Jan. 30 / ansd Feb. 11. 1784.”
1. Reed had come to England with John Witherspoon. Mentioned later in the letter, Witherspoon was a Presbyterian minister, president of the College of New Jersey, and signer of the Declaration of Independence. The two men had been commissioned by the college to seek funds in England to pay for the institution’s rehabilitation from the effects of the war, but their efforts ultimately proved futile (DAB; Varnum Lansing Collins, President Witherspoon: A Biography, 2 vols., Princeton, 1925, 2:138–143).