Papers of John Adams, volume 11

From William Lee

From Samuel Cooper

To Edmund Jenings, 9 February 1781 JA Jenings, Edmund To Edmund Jenings, 9 February 1781 Adams, John Jenings, Edmund
To Edmund Jenings
Dear Sir Amsterdam Feb. 9. 17811

I have this day the Honour of yours of 5. It would be unwise in Congress, to neglect any Effort to induce other Powers of Europe to acknowledge our Independancy, and therefore I am fully of opinion that at least one Minister Should be sent to treat with the Maritime Powers, or rather the neutral Union. For these Powers will all acknowlege our Independance at once, and none of them will do it Seperately. But Spain is a horrid obstacle to every other Courts taking this Step. Spain which is more interested in it, even than France, hesitates, and Jay is hung up, there as I am here, an object of Ridicule. Congress will not exhibit more of these Objects, than are necessary. Every Body Shakes his Head and crys, why dont Spain acknowledge your Independancy? I know the Reason very well but I cant tell it.2 I think that Reason equally impolitick and ungenerous. But how can We help it? and how can We help it.

LbC (Adams Papers).


In his Letterbook JA did not indicate the recipient of this letter, which is incomplete and probably was never sent, but it is clearly a reply to Jenings' letter of 5 Feb., above.


When JA copied this letter in 1809 for publication in the Boston Patriot he italicized this sentence and in a paragraph immediately following the letter explained what he meant (JA, Corr. in the Boston Patriot , 131 p. 387). “Although prudence forbad my explaining 'the reason' at that time, there is no necessity of concealing it now. I then believed, and I still believe, that the policy of the count de Vergennes, which exerted all its resources through the duke de la Vauguion, at the Hague, to embarrass me, and through the marquis of Verac to obstruct Mr. Dana at Petersburg, was employed at Madrid through the count Montmorin, to retard Mr. Jay; for his fundamental and universal principle appeared to be to keep us entirely dependent on France.”