Papers of John Adams, volume 8

To Edmé Jacques Genet, 24 February 1780 JA Genet, Edmé Jacques To Edmé Jacques Genet, 24 February 1780 Adams, John Genet, Edmé Jacques
To Edmé Jacques Genet
Dear Sir Paris Hotel de Valois Rue de Richelieu Feb. 24. 1780

I have received the Letter, that you did me the Honour to write me the 20th. of this Month.

I was cautious of troubling the Minister, with an Application directly to him upon a Subject like that of my Letter to you: but I thank you, for the Trouble you have taken in laying it, before him. The kind 362Expressions of his Excellencies Confidence, and his Readiness to receive any Applications directly from me, do me great Honour, and I shall not fail of paying my Respects to him upon proper Occasions.

I am happy to have his Excellencies Authority, to counteract, the delusive Artifices of our Enemies: and he may be equally assured that the Reports of Advances made by the Americans, towards an Arrangement with the English are equally groundless.

I hope to have soon the Honour of paying my Respects to you at Versailles. In the mean Time, I have a favour to request of you, which is your Assistance in procuring, some News Papers from England. I am told Dr. Franklin, and other Americans here have been under Obligations to you for procuring them by the Way of Ostend, and that they pay for them to the Post Master at Ostend. You are better acquainted with the Character and Merit of the English Papers than We are. We should be much obliged to you therefore, if you would give orders for two setts of Papers, one for Mr. Dana and one for me: one on the Court side of the Question and the other on the Country Side. Papers which commonly contain the best Intelligence.

We will pay the Expence whenever and to whomsoever you direct. And We shall be very glad to pay for your sending them to Us, in the same manner you did to Mr. Izard. I have the Honour to be with great Esteem and Respect, sir your most obedient and most humble servant.

LbC (Adams Papers); directed to: “Monsieur Genet Premier Comis de Affaires etrangeres, Rue Royal a Versailles.” The text is taken from the Letterbook copy because the RC (J. G. Turner, Los Angeles, 1958) exists only as a fragment, with extensive fire damage and the signature cut out.

From the Comte de Vergennes, 24 February 1780 Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de JA From the Comte de Vergennes, 24 February 1780 Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de Adams, John
From the Comte de Vergennes
Versailles, 24 February 1780.

printed: JA, Diary and Autobiography , 4:251–252

Replying to John Adams' letter of 19 Feb. (calendared above), Vergennes noted that Adams' account of his commissions agreed with that of Conrad Alexander Gérard and that the most important aspect of his mission, the negotiation of a peace treaty, would be announced in the Gazette de France. Adams might also publicize the peace commission in the Dutch papers, but should first send Vergennes a copy of any such article. Regarding Adams' commission to negotiate an Anglo-American commercial treaty, Vergennes advised him not to disclose it to anyone and in particular to do everything possible to prevent the British ministry from learning of it. Finally, Vergennes declared that since he was certain that Adams' instructions were in conformity with the Franco-American treaties, there was no need for him to see them.

Years later Adams analyzed Vergennes' motives for offering him the 363advice in this letter. He noted that although he had seen no reason “for concealing one of my Commissions more than the other,” he had thought it prudent to follow Vergennes' counsel. He believed, however, that the letter was early evidence of Vergennes' determination to have the commission to negotiate a commercial treaty annulled. According to Adams, Vergennes' success in that undertaking indicated that it was France's policy “to keep Us embroiled with England as much and as long as possible, even after a Peace” (same, 4:252–253).

printed : (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 4:251–252).