Papers of John Adams, volume 7

Gabriel de Sartine to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

To Elbridge Gerry

To Samuel Adams, 27 November 1778 JA Adams, Samuel To Samuel Adams, 27 November 1778 Adams, John Adams, Samuel
To Samuel Adams
My dear sir Passy Novr 27 1778

Yesterday the B. Parliament met. The 2d of Decr., We shall have the Speech. We hope to make Inferences from it of the Intentions of Spain, as well as Great B.1

Among the innumerable Falshoods that the English Emmissaries propagate every Year, to keep up the Spirits of stockjobbers and others, one has constantly been that Russia will take a Part with them. This is repeated lately. But I have taken some Pains to inform myself, and I think you may depend upon it, that there is an Understanding between this Court and that of Russia, and this last has taken an Engagement with the former, not to assist England in any Way. There is also a good Understanding with Prussia. In short England has not and cannot obtain a Single Ally in all Europe.

Nobody pretends to penetrate the Mysteries of Spanish Councils: but the late order from Court to take the Names of all foreign Merchants in the Kingdom, and the other to admit all armed Vessells to bring in their Prizes condemn and sell them in the Ports of the Kingdom are considered as preparatory Steps, and the Edict of the K. of the two Sicilies, the eldest son of the K. of Spain2 to admit the American Flagg into his Ports, is looked upon as an unequivocal Indication of the Designs of Spain.

The French Marine has hitherto shewn itself in every Encounter equal at least to the British, in the Bravery and Skill both of officers and Men: But the French Merchants have not exerted themselves in Privateering so much as the English, and have not had so much success.

What Reinforcement will be sent to the Comte D'Estaing, I cannot say: But of one Thing I am sure that the only wise Method of conducting the War would be to send a clear superiority of naval Force to America, an opinion which has been suggested and will be urged where it ought.

What Shall I say on the subject of Money? We can get no Answer from Mr. B. ——3 respecting the Contract. I shudder for fear, our Army should not be well supplied in the approaching Winter. But can 235do no more than has been done. And knowing what they have done and suffered I am at no Loss what they will do and suffer. But I should be happier if I was more sure they would be warm.

Crossing the ocean does not cure a Man of his Anxiety. But We are contending for as great an Object as ever Men had in View, and great Difficulties and Dangers, will lay the Foundation of a free and flourishing People broad and deep, in great Virtues and Abilities. I am my dear sir, your Friend and servant

John Adams

RC (NN: George Bancroft Collection); docketed: “From J Adams Esq Passy Novr 27. 1778.”


JA's reference is to George III's speech of 26 Nov. opening the session, the newspaper account of which he presumably expected to reach Paris by 2 Dec., but which in fact was delivered to him on the evening of the 1st ( Adams Family Correspondence , 3:125). In it the King strongly attacked France's unprovoked entry into the war, noted the mixed success of his war measures, regretted the failure of the Carlisle Commission, and promised renewed efforts to achieve victory and restore peace. Although Spain was not mentioned by name, George III did state that “the great armaments of other powers ... must necessarily engage our attention” ( Parliamentary Hist. , 19:1277–1279).


SeeCommissioners to the president of the congress, 7 Nov., and note 12 (above).