Papers of John Adams, volume 8

From the Marquis de Lafayette, 19 February 1780 Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de JA From the Marquis de Lafayette, 19 February 1780 Lafayette, Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Adams, John
From the Marquis de Lafayette
Dear Sir Paris February 19th 1780

As I came but this morning from Versailles, it was not in my power sooner to answer to the letter you have honor'd me with,1 and this duty I now perform with the more pleasure that it is of some importance to the interests of America.

Since the first day when I had the happiness of making myself, and of being considered in the World as an American, I have always observ'd that among so many ways of attaking our liberties, and among the most ungenerous ones, treachery and falsehood have ever been the first weapons on which the British Nation have the most depended. I am glad it is in my power generaly to assure you, that the many Reports propagated by them and alluded to in your letter are not founded upon truth. New contracts with petty German Princes have not, I believe, taken place, and if any such Merchandise was sent to America it would at most consist of a few recruits. The troubles in Ireland if there is the least common sense amongst the first patriots in that country, are not, I hope, at an end, and it seems they now begin to raise new expectations. The Russian troops so much talk'd of in theyr gazettes I take to be mere Recruits for those thirty thousand Russians that Mr. Rivington had three years ago ordered to embark for America.2

Those intelligences, my dear sir, must be counter acted by letters to our friends in America. But as the Respect we owe to the free citizens of the United States makes it a point of duty for us never to deceive them, and as the most candid frankness must ever distinguish our side of the question from the cause of tyrranny and falsehood, I intend paying tomorrow morning a visit to the Minister of foreign affairs, and from him get so minuted intelligences as will answer your purpose.


With the most sincere Regard and friendly affection I have the honor to Be Dear Sir Your most obedient humble servant

Lafayette M.G.3

P.S. On my Return from Versailles, my dear Sir, where I will settle the affair of arms that I had undertaken, I will impart you a project privately relating to me, that is not inconsistent with my sentiments for our country, America.4

RC (Adams Papers); docketed by John Thaxter: “Marquis de la Fayette 19th. Feby. 1780.”


This letter of 18 Feb. is not printed, but see JA's letter to Genet of the same date, note 1 (above).


This report appeared in Rivington's New York Gazette of 11 Oct. 1777.


Major General.


The nature of the “project” to be confided to JA is not known, but the “affair of arms” was probably a reference to Lafayette's ultimately successful effort to obtain “fifteen thousand stands of arms” for the Continental Army (Lafayette to Benjamin Franklin, 29 Feb. 1780, Lafayette in the Age of the American Revolution, ed. Stanley J. Idzerda and others, Ithaca, N.Y., 5 vols., 1977–1984, 2:359–360).

From Robert Montgomery, 19 February 1780 Montgomery, Robert JA From Robert Montgomery, 19 February 1780 Montgomery, Robert Adams, John
From Robert Montgomery
Dear Sir Alicante 19th Feb: 1780

I had the Pleasure of Addressing you the 5th Currente to Which Please be Referd and Since am Honour'd With your Truly Esteem'd Letter of the 31 ultimo and am Happy to Learn your Safe Arrival at Bordeaux on your Route to Paris. Your Thanks is Much more than an Equivilante for any Services I Wished to do you At Madrid. I onley Considred that as part of My duty, as well to Serve the united States as your Good Self for Whome I Shall Ever have a Perticular Regard.

You will have had a More Cirumstancial Account of what Passed at Gibralter than I Can Give you We being Distant from thence 11 days Post; but We are assured by the Master of a Small Barque in 7 days from Algeciras that two Men of War and Several Transports, Ware saild for Mahone1 it is Reported With 2000 English Troops on board for that Garison.

I beg lave to Repate My Requst of a Letter of Introduction to Mr. Jay,2 Interm have the Honour to be with the Greatest Sincerety Dear Sir your Most Obedient and Most Humble Servent

Robt Montgomery

RC (Adams Papers).


Port Mahon on the island of Minorca. Reinforcements for the garrison there had been sent with the convoy that arrived at Gibraltar in January. The needs of the besieged fortress required, however, that the troops be retained there and only 342supply ships were sent on to Port Mahon (Mackesy, War for America , p. 323).


It is not known whether JA acceded to Montgomery's request, but this is the last letter known to have been exchanged between the two men until Montgomery wrote to JA on 26 April 1783 (Adams Papers).