Papers of John Adams, volume 7

To James Lovell

The Commissioners to J. D. Schweighauser

337 To Edmé Jacques Genet, 4 January 1779 JA Genet, Edmé Jacques To Edmé Jacques Genet, 4 January 1779 Adams, John Genet, Edmé Jacques
To Edmé Jacques Genet
Passy, 4 January 1779 1

The resolve of Congress of the 10 October, that 2 you have inserted in your No. 62 is another Forgery.3 It has internal Marks of it enough.

1. Congress are not so much allarmed. They know the Ennemy have not the Power, tho they very well know they have the Will to do the Mischief.

2. Congress, would never recommend the building of such Hutts. There are Houses enough in the Country to receive the Inhabitants of the Towns, even in Case of such an Extremity.

3. Congress would never recommend the Burning the Houses of the Tories. They would sooner banish or Harry them and confiscate their Houses to carry on the War.

A simple glance is sufficient to any Man who knows the country 4 and the Congress to perceive Marks of the Beast, in such ridiculous Fictions. Yet they impose of British Mobs, Ministers and Members of Parliament.5

John Adams

RC (CLjC). This letter was translated into French and printed in Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Amérique (“Lettres,” vol. 13, cahier 63, p. lxxxiii). Fire damage at the top of the page has resulted in the loss of the salutation, dateline, and several words. As a result, except for the salutation which is not reproduced in Affaires, the dateline and other missing portions have been supplied in brackets by reconstructing the English text from the French translation in Affaires.


In Affaires the dateline read: “De P.*** le 4 Janvier 1779.”


In Affaires this paragraph begins “L'arrête du Congrès du 10 Octobre que.”


Printed on pages xxii and xxiii of cahier 62, the fictitious resolve noted an expected final British attempt at the destruction of American towns and directed Americans living in threatened areas to build huts at thirty miles distance and, if the attack came, to destroy all tory property. In the reply to this letter and his apology for being duped (cahier 63, lxxx–lxxxii), Genet gave as the source for the resolution a New York gazette, probably Rivington's Royal Gazette because the Courier de l'Europe of 22 Dec., cited in Genet's apology, contains the “resolve” of 10 Oct., the congress' countermanifesto of 30 Oct., and a reply to the latter by a loyalist writer; and all appeared under a heading that implied they were from the Royal Gazette of 18 Nov. The London Chronicle of 17–19 Dec. carried the same pieces with the same heading. The countermanifesto and the answer were printed in the Royal Gazette of 18 Nov., but the spurious resolve was not, nor did it appear in the other paper, Hugh Gaines' New York Gazette and Weekly Mercury. The resolve, therefore, was probably taken by Genet from an English newspaper that cited Rivington and was fabricated in England, not America. Further evidence of the resolve's wide circulation in Europe and its evident authenticity in the minds of those who read it can be seen in its appearance in the Gazette de Leide of 5 Jan.


In Affaires this sentence begins “Il suffit d'un simple coup d'oeil à toute personne connoissant le pays.”

338 5.

In this sentence JA's probable meaning is obscured by his use of “impose of.” The “of” may have been an inadvertence for “on,” but he meant “to obtrude or 'put' (a thing) upon (a person) by false representations; to palm or pass off” ( OED ). JA means that an effort is being made to impose false rumors or statements on the British people and politicians regarding the policy of the congress on the conduct of the war. Genet's French translation of the paragraph in Affaires is clearer than the sentence as JA wrote it. It reads: “Cependant elles reussissent a merveille pour tromper le vulgaire Anglois, les Ministres et les Membres du Parlement.” Translation: Yet they succeed to perfection in deceiving the British mob, ministers, and members of Parliament.