Papers of John Adams, volume 8

From Edmund Jenings

From Benjamin Franklin

From Arthur Lee, 2 June 1779 Lee, Arthur JA


From Arthur Lee, 2 June 1779 Lee, Arthur Adams, John
From Arthur Lee
Dear Sir Paris June 2d. 1779

Either my Letter to you of the 29th. March miscarried or you are in my debt. The inclosed MS which belongs to you was seald to go by Mr. Ford and was omitted by mistake.1

This will be delivered to you by the Chevalier de la Luzerne and M. de Marbois, whom you will find to be Gentlemen worthy of the important trusts they fill. I am much obliged to you for your kindness to Mr. Ford, and hope you will take him with you, if he shoud prefer it to going by Bourdeaux. I usd every argument in my power to prevail on Dr. Franklin to let the Alliance persue her first destination, and convoy the fleet after Piquet had left them. But my application was in vain, and the answer was that the Capt. had assurd him she was not mannd. This was on the 3d. of May.2

I have been told that accounts have been transmitted from Nantes to Passy, of your having spoke very freely there of the conduct of Dr. Franklin. I beleive this may be relied on, I think it proper you shoud know it.

The declarations of Holland and the Nothern powers against the right of England to stop their Merchant vessels, and arming to support their rights, are the most favorable events that have lately happend. Not a syllable from Congress, nor any news from England. Mr. Paine is displaced.3 I have seen the paper which gave rise to it which is more in favor of the french than truth will justify and in so much it merited censure. We have hazarded our lives and fortunes to some purpose if 72the factious nod of a foreign Minister can subject a deserving man to punishment in the most open violation of truth and justice. You must correct these proceedings.

Remember me to my young friend and accept of my good wishes for prosperity to you both.

I have the honor to be with great esteem Dear Sir, yr. most Obedt Servt. A. Lee

RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “H. A. Lee. 2. June ansd. 9th.”; in CFA's hand: “1779.”


No reply by JA to Lee's letter of 29 March (above) has been found. See, however, JA's letter to Lee of 9 June (below). Neither the manuscript mentioned by Lee nor a pamphlet referred to by JA in his letter of the 9th have been identified.


Lee is referring to Franklin's reply of 3 May to his of the 2d (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 3:153–154; Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S. , 2:71). In a letter of 6 May, Lee renewed his plea that the Alliance convoy the ships to America, but it was not until 15 May, when he met with Franklin, that Lee was told that he had received no reply because the ships had already sailed and thus there was nothing to be done (same, 2:72; PCC, No. 102, III, f. 25–26). For Franklin's real reason for refusing, see his letter to JA of 24 April, note 1 (above).


That is, Thomas Paine had resigned under pressure because of the controversy over his statements regarding French aid (Edmund Jenings to JA, 25 April, note 1, above).