Papers of John Adams, volume 13

From Benjamin Franklin, 2 June 1782 Franklin, Benjamin JA From Benjamin Franklin, 2 June 1782 Franklin, Benjamin Adams, John
From Benjamin Franklin
Passy June 2d. 17821 Sir

Since mine of May 8th I have not had any thing material to communicate to your Excellency. Mr Grenville2 indeed arriv'd just after I had dispatch'd that Letter, and I introduc'd him to M. De Vergennes; but as his Mission seem'd only a Repetition of that by Mr Oswald, the same Declarations of the King of Englands sincere Desire of Peace, and willingness to treat of a General Pacification with all the Powers at War, and to treat at Paris, which were answer'd by the same Declarations of the good Dispositions of this Court; and that it could not treat without the Concurrence of its Allies, I omitted writing till something should be produc'd from a kind of Agreement that Mr Vergennes would acquaint Spain and Holland with the Overture and that Mr. Grenville would write for full Powers to treat and make Propositions &ca, nothing of Importance being in the meantime to be transacted.

Mr. Grenville accordingly dispatch'd a Messenger for London, who return'd in about 12 Days. Mr. G. call'd on me after having been at Versailles and acquainted me that he had received the Power, and had left a Copy of it with M. de Vergennes, and that he was thereby authoris'd to treat with France and her Allies. The next time I went to Versailles, I desired to see that Copy, and was surprisd to find in it no mention of the Allies of France or any one of them; and on speaking with M. De Vergennes about it I found he begun to look upon the whole as a Piece of Artifice to amuse us and gain Time; since he had uniformly declar'd to every Agent who had 94appear'd here, viz: to Forth3 Oswald, and Grenville, that the King would not treat without the Concurrence of his Allies, and yet England had given a Power to treat with France only, which shew'd that she did not intend to treat at all, but meant to continue the War. I had not 'till Yesterday an Opportunity of talking with Mr. Grenville on the Subject, and expressing my Wonder, after what he told me, that there should be no mention made of our States in his Commission: He could not explain this to my Satisfaction; but said he believ'd the Omission was occasioned by their Copying an old Commission given to Mr. Stanly at the last Treaty of Peace,4 for that he was sure the Intention was that he should treat with us, his Instructions being fully to that purpose. I acquainted him that I thought a special Commission was necessary, without which we could not conceive him authoris'd and therefore could not treat with him. I imagine that there is a Reluctance in their King to take this first Step, as the giving such a Commission would itself be a kind of Acknowledgment of our Independence; their late Success against Count de Grasse may also have given them Hopes that by Delay and more Successes they may make that Acknoledgment and a Peace less necessary.

Mr. Grenville has written to his Court for farther Instructions. We shall see what the Return of his Courier will produce. If full Power to treat with each of the Powers at War against England does not appear, I imagine the Negociation will be broken off. Mr. G. in his Conversations with me insists much on our being under no Engagements not to make Peace without Holland. I have answer'd him that I know not but you may have enter'd into some, and that if there should be none, a general Pacification made at the same time, would be best for us all, and that I believ'd neither Holland nor we could be prevail'd on to abandon our Friends. What happens farther shall be immediately communicated. Be pleased to present my Respects to Mr Lawrens to whom I wrote some Days since.5 Mr Jay I suppose is on his Way hither.6

With great Respect, I have the honour to be, Sir, Your Excellency's most obedient & most humble Servant

B Franklin

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Dr Franklin June 2, 1782 ansd 13. recd 11th.”


Franklin did not write again to JA until 15 Oct., below. This hiatus of over four months probably was owing to Franklin's ill health during that period, and also to the fact that from early August, John Jay kept JA abreast of the progress of the peace negotiations.


Grenville was the representative of Charles James Fox, but his mission ended when Fox resigned from the cabinet follow-95ing the Marquess of Rockingham's death on 1 July (Morris, Peacemakers , p. 271–281).


Nathaniel Parker Forth. See Franklin's letter of 13 April, and note 2 (vol. 12:407–408).


Hans Stanley, who conducted preliminary, but unsuccessful, negotiations at Paris in 1761 to end the Seven Years' War ( DNB ).


Probably Franklin's letter of 25 May (Laurens, Papers , 15:514–517).


Franklin told JA that he intended to ask John Jay to come to Paris in his letter of 20 April (vol. 12:432–433) and wrote to Jay on the 22d. Jay received Franklin's letter on 8 May, left Madrid on the 21st, and reached Paris on 23 June (Franklin, Papers , 37:198–199, 288; Morris, Peacemakers , p. 282).

To Edmund Jenings, 5 June 1782 JA Jenings, Edmund To Edmund Jenings, 5 June 1782 Adams, John Jenings, Edmund
To Edmund Jenings
June 5. 17821 Dr Sir

Just a Line, by our venerable Friend, President Laurens, with whom your Communions will be sweet.2 Pray let me know if Mr Jay is coming to Paris, or come. The last Victory of Rodney, to whom Heaven grants them to shew that it dispizes them, has restored the national Delirium, in all its Effervescence. We shall have no Peace I suppose, in Consequence. War then! War? Yet I sigh for Peace as much, as a Dutchman.

Yours &

J. Adams

RC (Adams Papers).


JA was at The Hague on 5 June, making it likely that he gave this letter to Henry Laurens when Laurens paid him a “very short Visit” when he passed through The Hague on his journey from Amsterdam to Le Vigan in southern France (to Benjamin Franklin, 13 June, below).


Opposite this sentence in the left margin is the following notation by Jenings: “NB. Very the most bitter I recal Hy L Candour Ed J. 1783.” Jenings refers to his dispute with Henry Laurens over several anonymous letters that sought to sow dissension among the peace commissions and that Laurens believed Jenings had written. For the letters and the dispute, see the letter from Monitor, 20 May, and note 1, above. Laurens later recalled that he immediately suspected Jenings, but when Laurens visited him, they apparently got along well because Laurens wrote to Edward Bridgen on 11 June that “I have received much Satisfaction from a short acquaintance of three days, and promise myself much more hereafter by Correspondence—Our Ideas on American Affairs are in Unison” (Laurens, Papers , 15:528–529). But see also Laurens' 25 Aug. letter to JA, below.

From Jean de Neufville, 5 June 1782 Neufville, Jean de JA From Jean de Neufville, 5 June 1782 Neufville, Jean de Adams, John
From Jean de Neufville
Amsterdam the 5th. Júne 1782 Sir

It was with concern we foúnd by the letter Yoúr Excellency honord ús with in date of the 1st. instant yoúr and Mr. Thaxters indisposition, we sincerely wish a speedy restablishment of yoúr healths, that yoú may vizit as soon as yoú wish this Capital, which however we do not súppose will be hastend on Accoúnt of the small 96Ballance to be payd us, as we wish yoú to make it perfectly Convenient to yoúr self. We shall transfer agreable to yoúr orders the article of f 105. payd Mr. Dúmas from Yoúr Excellencys Accoúnt to that of Congress, it being for publick búsiness.

We are múch obliged to yoú for yoúr attention in retúrning ús Mr. Tyarinks Pjasink letter &ca.1 and shall esteem yoúr sending ús back also two from Docor. Franklin we send yoú last winter for yoúr perúsal,2 as we are apprehensive we shall be under the necesisity of troubling Congress with a tedioús and disagreable Correspondce. at which that Honble. Body múst natúrally wonder at, as they will after all refer oúr Accoúnts back to those persons in Eúrope, who should be the best judges, in that case it múst appear to them, as it múst to every júdicioús person, that delays were soúght only to add to the vexations of varioús kind we have been made to experience, for as to oúr disinterestedness, at least in that búsiness, it Can not be misconstrued, as we are as ready to repeat the like offer to Congress we made, before we knew how the affair of the ships would túrn oút, and give úp any advantage there may have resulted from the shares we were made to hold in those ships, though we were exposed to be saddled with the whole loss that might have happend; There for if that (trifling as it is) Could be an object, I shoúld think it would add bút little to the sacrifices I have made, and I would not for such a paltry Consideration pút Congress under the embarassment súch an offer from me would Caúse them; nor do I see on what reasonable pretence an application to them is made before we are satisfied; as all objections there to are removed, by oúr offer of entering into any obligation to be still Accountable for any part of the Accoúnts Congress should disaprove, and woúld with Chearfúlness abide by whatever últerior resolútion it may make; being persuaded it is not the intent of that Honble. body that we should be mortified on every occasion withoút reason, as we are Conscioús we deserve a more liberal treatment, and that by oúr interfering for the Credit of the United States, we should be subject, thoúgh in a less degree, to the Inconvenience we suffer from a Separate one, and on private Accounts from the enormoús advances we are at in amca. and which makes ús want the more what we have advanced for Congress, though an object of no great magnitude.3

It would have given ús pleasúre, to have been able to reply more Satisfactorily to that part of yoúr Letter concerning the obligations which yoú know were first produced, when it was impossible to do any thing with them, and what we attempted aboút them, was Con-97trary to oúr judgement, in mere Complyance to Your Excys. persuasion.4 Hear, and at the acknowledgement of the American Independence, when we could have disposed of them, we were not at Liberty; it is now evident that then, it became immaterial to the Success of the Loan, in whose hands it was placed; provided it was not in those of an obnoxioús Caracter to the frinds of America, and Liberty.5 Congress indeed might have been saved the expence of the last 500 Obligations had it not been necessary, (had they been used), which we could not but think they would; that they should all be of the Same year: now indeed we join yoúr Excy. in opinion that they may be doomd to the flames for any Service they may be of.

If we múst be forced as complainants or petitioners before Congress to demand oúr dúe, we shall be glad as soon as may be, to have the objections to oúr Accoúnts Yr. Excy. shall be pleased to make, (which have been Chiefly reserved in silence,) that we may be able to state fúlly the whole matter; which will be an Ircksome task to me, who Wished only to enjoy in retirement the reflexions which will arise from the súccess of my last Years laboúrs, in the Common Caúse; being not less Ambitioús to preserve my own Independence then I have been earnest for that of others.

I have the honor to be with all dúe Respect. Sir. Yoúr Excellencys most obedient and most húmble Servant

John de Neúfville

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Messrs De Neufville 5 June 1782.”


A reference to the material JA returned to de Neufville & Fils in his 1 June letter, above.


See JA to de Neufville & Fils, 6 June, note 1, below.


De Neufville is referring here to the still unresolved controversy regarding the disposition of war-related goods that Alexander Gillon was supposed to have taken to America in 1781. Efforts to settle the affair resulted in an extensive correspondence between JA, Franklin, the de Neufvilles, and others, for which see vols. 11 and 12, passim.


In this paragraph, de Neufville refers to his and JA's unsuccessful effort to raise a Dutch loan for the United States in 1781, which was superseded in 1782 by that undertaken by the consortium of Wilhem & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, and De la Lande & Fynje.


Presumably John Hodshon.