Papers of John Adams, volume 13

From Philip Mazzei

From Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst

From Robert R. Livingston, 22 May 1782 Livingston, Robert R. JA


From Robert R. Livingston, 22 May 1782 Livingston, Robert R. Adams, John
From Robert R. Livingston
No. 6 3plicate Philadelphia, 22d May 1782 Dear Sir

It is so important to let you know that the late change in the British Ministry and the conciliating measures they propose have occasioned no alteration in the sentiments of people here, that tho' I am too much hurried, (this conveyance going sooner than was intended,) to take particular notice of the letters we have received from 71you, and which remain unanswered, yet I cannot but avail myself of it to inform you that it will not have the least effect upon the sentiments or wishes of people here, who remain invariably attached to their independence and to their alliance, as the best means to obtain it. Sir Guy has written to the general a very polite Letter, complaining of the manner in which the war has been carried on, proposing to conduct it in future upon more liberal principles, and observing that “They were both equally concerned to preserve the character of Englishmen” and concluding with the request of a passport for Mr Morgan his secretary to carry a similar Letter of compliment to Congress. Congress have directed that no such passports be given.1 The state of Maryland, whose Legislature happened to be sitting have come to resolutions which shew their determination not to permit any negotiation except thro' Congress, and their sense of the importance of the Alliance.2

No military operations are carrying on at present, the Enemy having received no reinforcements, and growing weaker every day, of consequence afford us a fine opportunity of striking to advantage, if we are not disappointed in our expectation of a naval Armament, or even without such Armament if we have sufficient vigor of mind to rely on our own strength. I commit the enclosed for Mr Dana to your care;3 I wish it could get to him, if possible, without inspection.

Congress have determined in future to pay your salaries here quarterly.4 I shall consider myself as your Agent; unless you should chuse to appoint some other,5 and make out your account quarterly, and vest the money in bills upon Doctor Franklin to whom I will remit them, giving you advice thereof, so that you may draw on him. By the next Vessel, I shall send Bills for one quarter commencing the first of January last.6 I wish to have a state of your Accounts, previous to that, that I may get it settled and remit the Ballance.

I have the honor to be, sir with great respect & Esteem Your most obedient humble servt

Robt R Livingston

Tripl (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Secretary Livingston. 22 May. ansd 6 Septr. 1782 No 6.” Although JA wrote a detailed reply to this letter on 6 Sept., he acknowledged its arrival in the form of a triplicate in his letter of 4 Sept., below. A second copy in the Adams Papers, erroneously designated No. 7, was probably the original, and the duplicate of the letter is in MHi: John Adams, Embassy MSS. Livingston's previous letter to JA was that of 5 March (vol. 12:295–299).


Sir Guy Carleton's letter, dated 7 May at New York, reached the Congress on 14 May as an enclosure in George Washington's letter of 10 May. The Congress immediately took the resolution indicated by Livingston ( JCC , 22:263).


This resolution by the Maryland House of Delegates was taken on 15 May and ap-72peared in the Pennsylvania Gazette of 22 May.


Livingston also wrote letters to Francis Dana and Benjamin Franklin on 22 May that contained much of the same information as in that to JA (Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 5:436; Franklin, Papers , 37:398–399).


Livingston was anticipating Congress' action. Such a resolution, which took effect immediately, was adopted on 29 May, but it was repealed on 5 June and replaced with another that would apply from 1 August. The measure resulted from a general review of the salaries of all American representatives in Europe initiated on 9 May when the Congress received a letter from Robert Morris dated the 8th in which he indicated that La Luzerne, the French minister, had told him “that in future no sums will be paid to the ministers of the United States in Europe by his court.” This, according to Morris, made it necessary “to make provision for their support here,” and the solution that he proposed in his letter was essentially that adopted by the Congress on 28 May. The letter from Morris was accompanied by another of the same date from the secretary for foreign affairs in which the salaries of the American ministers and their secretaries were examined and nine resolutions offered to establish a new schedule for compensation. The question of salaries was considered on 28 May and 14 June, but no resolutions establishing a new schedule were adopted, and the issue lapsed until raised anew in late Nov. ( JCC , 22:308, 316, 253–260, 306–307, 332–333; 23:741, 850).


Livingston renewed his suggestion that JA appoint an agent to receive his salary in his letter of 29 Aug., and Robert Morris urged JA to do so in his letter of 25 Sept. (both below), but there is no indication that JA ever appointed such an agent.


See Lewis R. Morris' letter of 6 July, below.