Papers of John Adams, volume 7

C. W. F. Dumas to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

To Elbridge Gerry

To the President of the Congress, 3 December 1778 JA Laurens, Henry President of Congress To the President of the Congress, 3 December 1778 Adams, John Laurens, Henry President of Congress
To the President of the Congress
Sir Passy Decr 3 1778

I have the Honour to inclose to Congress, the latest News Papers: As they contain the Speech at the Opening of Parliament,1 and Some of the Debates in both Houses upon the Addresses in Answer to it, they are of very great Importance. I learn by Some Newspapers, and private Letters that an opinion has been prevalent in America, that the Ennemy intended to withdraw from the united States, and considering the cruel Devastations of the War, and the unfortunate Situation of our Finances nothing would give me so much Joy as to see Reasons to concur in that opinion, and to furnish Congress with Intelligence in Support of it.

But I am sorry to say that the Reverse is too apparent. We may call it Obstinacy or Blindness, if We will, but such is the state of Parties in England, so deep would be the Disgrace, and perhaps so great the personal Danger to those who have commenced and prosecuted this War, that they cannot but persevere in it, at every Hazard. And nothing is clearer in my Mind, than that they never will quit the united States, untill they are either driven or starved out of them.


I hope therefore that Congress will excuse me, for suggesting that there is but one Course for Us to take, which is to concert every Measure and exert every Nerve, for the total Destruction of the British Power within the united States. I have the Honour to be with the most respectfull Consideration sir, your most humble, and most obedient servant

John Adams

RC (PCC, No. 84, I, f. 25–28); docketed: “2 Letter from J. Adams Passy Decr. 3. 1778 Read March 4. 1779 Referred to Mr G Morris Mr Drayton Mr Paca.” JA's letter of 8 Dec. to the president of the congress (below) was also read on 4 March. The “2” may indicate that this letter was considered after that of the 8th.


This is the first of four letters to the president of the congress enclosing copies of the King's speech of 26 Nov., the others being dated 6, 7, and 8 Dec. That of the 6th, read by the congress on 25 Feb. 1779, was a simple letter of transmission that noted only the importance of the speech for understanding British intentions (PCC, No. 84, I, f. 29—30; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 2:851). The letter of the 7th, existing only as a Letterbook copy (Adams Papers), may have been superseded by that of the 8th (below) and not sent, for there is no evidence that the congress ever received it. In his letter of the 7th, JA stated that it could be inferred from the speech that the British had neither allies nor any prospects of gaining any, feared the appearance of additional enemies, and would prosecute the war as long as possible. JA also noted the surprising amount of opposition in Parliament, which he believed would grow.