Papers of John Adams, volume 9

To Thomas Digges

To Thomas Jefferson

To Benjamin Franklin, 29 June 1780 JA Franklin, Benjamin


To Benjamin Franklin, 29 June 1780 Adams, John Franklin, Benjamin
To Benjamin Franklin
Sir Paris June 29th. 1780

I have the honor to inclose a Copy of the letter of the Comte De 481Vergennes, to me, of the 21st. of this Month, and a Copy of my Answer to his Excellency of the 22d.1

This Correspondence is upon a subject, that has lain much out of the way of my particular pursuits, and therefore I may be inaccurate in somethings, but in the principles I am well persuaded I am right. I hope that things are explained so as to be intelligible, and that there is nothing inconsistant with that decency which ought in such a Case to be observed.

If your Excellency thinks me materially wrong in any Thing, I shou'd be much obliged to you to point it out to me, for I am open to Conviction.2

This Affair in America is a very tender and dangerous business, and requires all the Address, as well as Firmness of Congress to extricate the Country out of the Embarrassments arising from it: And there is no possible System, I believe, that cou'd give universal Satisfaction to all, but this appears to me, to promise to give more general satisfaction than any other that I have ever heard suggested. I have the honor to be with much Respect Your Excellency's most obedient and most humble Servant.

John Adams

I have added Copies of the whole Correspondence.

RC in Francis Dana's hand except for signature and postscript (PPAmP: Franklin Papers). LbC, with postscript in John Thaxter's hand (Adams Papers).


For the letters enclosed by JA, see his letter of 26 June to the president of Congress, No. 87, and notes (above). Copies of these letters are in the Franklin Papers ( Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S. , 4:305, 307, 308), but some, particularly JA's 2d letter to Vergennes of 22 June (above), may have been included among the copies sent to Franklin by Vergennes with his letter of 30 June (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 3:827).


No reply by Franklin to this letter or any document indicating his position regarding the revaluation has been found. In response to JA's letter of 22 June (above), Franklin wrote to Vergennes on 24 June to request that La Luzerne's instructions on the matter be rescinded or delayed, but did not reveal his own position on the issue (PPAmP: Franklin Papers). Vergennes, in his reply to Franklin of 30 June, denied the request and enclosed his correspondence with JA. Vergennes also indicated his confidence that Franklin's position regarding the revaluation's application to Frenchmen was directly opposed to JA's and requested Franklin to write to Congress in support of the French position and enclose the letters that had passed between Vergennes and JA on the question (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 3:827). In fact, Franklin did not write to Congress until 9 Aug. and then did not send off the letter until sometime in October (same, 4:21–25; from Franklin, 8 Oct., and note 4, below). While he enclosed therein the letters exchanged by JA and Vergennes in June, the focus of his remarks was on the letters from JA to Vergennes in July; he did not mention the revaluation (same, 4:21–25). Franklin's failure to act as Vergennes desired, particularly his delay in writing and then in sending off the letter of 9 Aug., may indicate that he, like JA, thought that any effort to persuade Congress to revise the revaluation in favor of Frenchmen was futile, and perhaps that he was more sympathetic to JA's view of the matter than Vergennes imagined.