Papers of John Adams, volume 12

From William Jackson, 12 November 1781 Jackson, William JA


From William Jackson, 12 November 1781 Jackson, William Adams, John
From William Jackson
Bilbao November 12. 17811 Dear Sir

I had the honor to address your Excellency by the last post, in which letter2 I informed you that we should probably sail the 16. instant—but a sudden fresh in the river, which impedes the ship’s loading, will oblige us to wait for the next spring-tide.3

By a Vessel belonging to Mr. Tracy which arrived here yesterday in four weeks from America we have received very important intelligence. Mr. Tracy writes Mr. Gardoqui that the Count de Grasse having beat the British fleet commanded by Admiral Graves had returned to the Chesapeak, and having been reinforced by Count de Barras with the Rhode-Island squadron, had stationed his whole force consisting of 36 sail of the line, and a number of frigates so as to effectually command the Chesapeak and the rivers adjacent. General Washington, having previously ordered the Count Rochambeau with his troops to the Southward, had followed himself 66 with the elite of our army, which joined by the Corps under Genls. Stuben, La fayette, and Wayne, and a debarkation from the fleet, formed an allied army of at least 20,000 Men. His Excellency had embarked the troops at the head of Elk, landed in the neighbourhood of Cornwallis and completely invested him at York town in Virginia, where he had fortified himself as strongly as possible. Mr. Tracy says it was reported that Cornwallis had offered to capitulate on like terms with Burgoyne, but that General Washington held him to a surrender at discretion. I most heartily congratulate your Excellency on this very favorable aspect of affairs, and I felicitate myself with a hope that your Excellency’s views in coming to Europe will soon meet their well earned honor and success. The enclosed Gazette,4 which is the latest received, will give you farther particulars. I must profit of the few minutes before the post goes to carry my letter to the office. Your dear little Boy is very well—he wrote to you this morning5 by Mr. Bromfield, who returns to Amsterdam. Coll. Trumbull offers his most respectful compliments. I beg you will present mine to Mr. Thaxter.

I am with profound respect, and real regard, Dear Sir, Your Excellency’s most obedient humble Servant. W. Jackson

Should you write Mr. Dana please to present my affectionate respects to him and your Son. I shall endeavor to write Mr. D. before I leave Europe. W.J.

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed by John Thaxter: “Major Jackson 12th. Novr. 1781”; by JA: “ansd 1. Decr. 1781.”


For JA’s reply to this letter, see Adams Family Correspondence , 4:248.


Probably Jackson’s letter of 26 Oct. (same, 4:235–238).


The twenty-gun Massachusetts privateer Cicero, Capt. Hugh Hill, sailed from Bilbao on or about 10 Dec., and arrived at Beverly, Mass., on 21 Jan. 1782. For references to the vessel and detailed accounts of its voyage to America, see same, 4:index.


Not found.


Not found.

From Edmund Jenings, 14 November 1781 Jenings, Edmund JA


From Edmund Jenings, 14 November 1781 Jenings, Edmund Adams, John
From Edmund Jenings
Brussels Novr. 14. 1781 Sir

I trouble your Excellency at this Time to transcribe the following Letter “sent by Person of some Distinction at Paris to a Man not less so in London” the Copy of which I have just now receivd.

“Nous ne donnons pas á Monsieur Ad: une Confiance bien aveuglé; et ce n’est pas sans cause quils ont mis autour de lui des Hommes, qui l’Observent, on le croit honnête; on le scait ardent; inflex-67ible même pour sa Cause; mais il S’abonde trop dans son sens, et ne Scait donner aux convenances. Nous aimons mieux placer Confiance dans Monsr Fra.”1

I Know not from whom this Letter comes or to whom it is addressed. I will endeavour to learn one and the other.

We have reports here of an Attempt on the Emperors Life by Poison. It is said too that France is to cede Corsica to the Grand Duke for 1500,000£.2

The Council and the States of these Countries are debating on the Reception of the Emperors late Edict for tolerating the Protestants. The Churchmen are much dissatisfied therewith.3

I have read the Oaths, which the Emperor took by Proxy to the States of Brabant. It is very long but is not materially different from the former ones, taken by the Antient Dukes.4

I should be glad to Know what your Excellency proposes to do with Mr Charles Adams in his present Situation at Corunna. I am much distress’d about My Nephew.5

I am with the greatest Respect Sir your Excellencys Most Faithful & Obedient Humble Servt Edm: Jenings

RC (Adams Papers).


For the sense of this passage from the unidentified letter and JA’s commentary on the points raised therein, see his letter of 29 Nov. to Jenings, below; for his speculation that the Comte de Vergennes was the source of the comment, see his letter of 21 Feb. 1782 to Robert R. Livingston, note 15, below.


Neither of these reports was true.


On 12 Nov., at Joseph II’s direction, the governors general of the Austrian Netherlands, Joseph’s sister Marie Christine, and her husband Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen, issued a circular letter granting religious toleration to Protestants. This “Edict of Toleration,” which had been promulgated in other parts of the empire a month earlier, immediately aroused opposition from the Catholic authorities. The controversy was relatively brief, however, largely because the edict was of minor importance when compared to Joseph II’s later efforts at religious reform. For Joseph II’s motivation in granting religious freedom to Protestants, which had an economic dimension, and the unrest created by his reforms, see Walter W. Davis, Joseph II: An Imperial Reformer for the Austrian Netherlands, The Hague, 1974, p. 189–219.


The Joyeuse Entrée oath of 1356 established the rights and privileges enjoyed by the people of the Duchy of Brabant. Rulers of the Duchy, part of the Austrian Netherlands, swore to uphold its provisions upon taking office. Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen took the oath for the emperor at Brussels, the capital of Brabant, on 17 July (same, p. 14, 119).


John or Matthias Bordley; see Jenings’ letter of 22 April, and note 2 (vol. 11:285–286).