Papers of John Adams, volume 11

From John Bondfield, 6 April 1781 Bondfield, John JA


From John Bondfield, 6 April 1781 Bondfield, John Adams, John
From John Bondfield
Sir Bordeaux 6 April 1781

Letters from Cadiz inform us of the arrival of a Vessel at that port from Baltimore she left the Bay the 16 february. The Capt. reports more than we can well Credit, that Arnold had made great distruction in the circuit he had taken which had rouzed the Virginians that a Body of Six Thousand Men had got betwixt him and his Shiping and they were in dayly expectation of his being Burgoign'd. The Americans had gaind a considerable advantage over the Enemy in So. Carolina, and that the affairs in general were in a flurishing State the New Emissions were Current without depreciation and the Royal Interest every where declined. The Ann and Luzern saild from Lorient the 27th. as did the Alliance and the Marquis de la fayet, the 29th. The safe arrival of the two last ships will give great satisfaction to the States the Marquis de la fayet having on Board all the Clothing provided by J. Williams consisting of eight Thousand Suits made up 250and cloth to make up 4000 more a quantity greatly short of that mentiond by Genl. Sulivan in his intercepted Letter which if it containd what realy the States expect so great a difficientcy will be a provoking disapointment.1

We flatterd ourselves Holland would have created a divertion in the North Seas we do not find a single Ship yet at Sea. Letters from Madrid of the 30th. mention the appearance of the Spanish Fleet off Cadiz. Spain has not force to oppose to the Fleet under Darby who will enter Gibraltar without Oppossien. The french Fleet from Brest Saild the 23 of course only a day After the English Fleet left Silly2 a rencontre of them Fleets is not improbable.3 With respect I have the Honor to be Sir your very hbb Serv

John Bondfield

RC (Adams Papers).


John Sullivan's letter of 15 Nov. 1780 to Meshech Weare was intercepted and subsequently printed in London newspapers (from Edmund Jenings, 5 Feb., and note 3, above). Sullivan complained that the army was “almost Naked” because of the unaccountable failure to send uniforms purchased in France for 49,000 troops (Smith, ed., Letters of Delegates , 16:339).

The Marquis de Lafayette, a French ship purchased by Leray de Chaumont in 1780 and then chartered by Jonathan Williams, was to transport approximately 500 tons of clothing and military supplies to America. Although it sailed with the Alliance, the Marquis de Lafayette became separated from the frigate on 29 April and four days later the British frigate Endymion captured it after a three-hour battle. For a detailed history of the Marquis de Lafayette and Benjamin Franklin's efforts to send the supplies purchased in France to the U.S., see Claude A. Lopez, “Benjamin Franklin, Lafayette, and the Lafayette,” Amer. Philos. Soc., Procs. , 108 (1964):181–223.


The Isles of Scilly.


Bondfield's hopes for an engagement between Grasse and Darby were not fulfilled. The French fleet sailed from Brest on 22 March, at which time Darby was still waiting off the Irish coast for the victualers to join him from the depot at Cork. Darby's fleet reached Gibraltar on 12 April and, although the supply ships unloaded under fire, accomplished the relief with relative ease because the Spanish fleet elected to remain in Cádiz (Dull, French Navy and Amer. Independence , p. 222–225; Mackesy, War for America , p. 388–389).

From “Boston”, 7 April 1781 Boston JA


From “Boston”, 7 April 1781 Boston Adams, John
From “Boston”
Dr Sir Amsterdam 7 Apl. 1780 i.e., 1781

Persuaded as I am that the mentioning the Observations I have lately heard made by many respectable men of this place, will be taken in a proper light, I should think it Treason to our States, to Conceal the most trifling Circumstance that the Communicating of to you, could either benefit or prejudice. As besides things that are Matter of Opinion, will never reflect on your private Character, whom all that are acquainted with it as well as I am will and must ever hold in the highest respect.

The remarks I allude to, which is repeatedly made and lately in my 251presence where a Member of this Regency happen'd to be—Was that your appearance, as a publick Character here, from States, which already Commands the Admiration as well as Attention of Europe; Was not Sufficiently Splendid or respectable, for to Support with proper dignity the Character of an Ambassador so as to gain that respect and Credit, which we want, from this Capital; and whose Confidence in the present Moment is of essential Service to the Support of our Credit. Some supposed the Allowance of our States was not Sufficient to enable you to sustain the Character of an Ambassador or Envoy, with proper dignity, and that your own fortune added thereto could not Supply the defficiency, whilst others said our Enemies, were base enough to assure our States could not Support you properly, and that out of the Small Allowance they made you, you Wished to save as much of it as you Could. Which Accounted, for the mean lodgings You had put up with, which where no ways suited to receive or entertain (as must be done in your Situation) those Members of the Regency as well as other respectable Characters here, whose friendly Support in many instances we stand so much need of.

Though I am well persuaded the best Motives sways your Actions, and that you wou'd even Sacrifice fortune and every thing that's dear to you to that first of all Considerations the good of our dear, ever dear Country—and that there surmise in every particular is ill founded, I cannot but wish as does every American, that those reasons, which have determined you to keep in so retired a State may soon cease, and that we may close the Mouth of Slander by seeing you have a decent House for your Residence, Carriage and that requisite State as Dr. Fr. which though of more Expence to the States of A. yet will be of Infinite advantage to Collect and connect the friends of our Cause and make them be more known, which will be great Service In many Instances I know of. I have gone farther than mentioning the remarks I have heard, since I have added my own wishes, but I submit both to your Consideration as I am persuaded, you are Nevertheless assured of that respect and Affection borne you by him, whom you know without his Subscribing any otherways than


RC (Adams Papers).


This letter may have influenced JA's decision two days later to commission the firm of Sigourney, Ingraham, & Bromfield to procure a residence “suitable for a Minister Plenipotentiary from the United States to receive and entertain Company” (to Sigourney, Ingraham, & Bromfield, 9 April, below).

The text and signature suggest that “Bos-252 image ton” was an American whom JA had met in Amsterdam. The author may be the same person who, calling himself “Monitor,” wrote to JA on 20 May 1782 (Adams Papers). This is one of several anonymous letters written during this period critical of JA's activities in the Netherlands and designed to divide the U.S. Peace Commissioners.