Papers of John Adams, volume 10

From Francis Dana

To Joseph Gridley

From William Lee, 27 August 1780 Lee, William JA


From William Lee, 27 August 1780 Lee, William Adams, John
From William Lee
Dr Sir Bruxelles, Augt. 27 1780

As you desire in yours of the 23. I now send you the Packet and least the English mail should be detain'd by the wind from you as it has been here I send you the contents of a letter from Mr. Stephens Secratary of the Admiralty to LLoyds Coffee House for the information of the Merchants—which is dated the 22 instant.1


Mr. Stephens says he has received a letter dated Augt. 9. from the Capt. of the Thetis Frigate who in company with the Ramillies was convoying the West India fleet of 54 Sail with Genl. Rainsfords Regiment on 25 East India Men, which informs him that in the evening of the 8th in Lat: 36.40 and Longit: 15 West, they unfortunately fell in with the United fleet from Cadiz and he fear'd that almost the whole convoy had fallen into the Enemys hands. This I hope is only the begining of good News.

'Tis certain that Congress has not paid that attention to the Dutch that they merited, or that the interest of America requir'd; and it is not a little unfortunate that other powers have been treated with the same neglect, since it is more than probable that at this period, by proper management, a general acknowlegement of our Independence might be obtain'd, which would in a great measure remove the principal objection that the Enemy pretend to have against making Peace. For my own part, I cou'd wish to see Portugal treated as she deserves, by all the United Powers declaring War upon her, when she cou'd not do us half the injury that she does now under the flimsy pretext of Neutrality.

Be pleased to send me, if you can procure them, the particulars of the plan, by which St. Thomas's is constituted a Free Port.

Our best Compliments attend your Sons and I have the Honor to remain with very high respect Dear Sir Your most Obliged & Obedt. Hble Servt.

W. Lee

RC (Adams Papers). LbC ViHi: William Lee Letterbook. The removal of the seal has resulted in the loss of several words. In the third paragraph the missing text has been supplied from the Letterbook copy. The first two paragraphs, as well as the closing paragraph, are not in the Letterbook.


Philip Stephens' letter of 22 Aug., was printed in various London newspapers on the 23d, together with information about the convoy's capture that had been received in the meantime. The source for Lee's report, which combines a paraphrase of Stephens' letter with some additional information, may have been the London Morning Post, for, of the newspapers consulted, only that paper identified the regiment as Gen. Charles Rainsford's. It was believed that fifty-two out of the fifty-four vessels in the convoy were taken, the escorts having escaped, but see Francis Dana's letter of 27 Aug., note 5 (above).