Papers of John Adams, volume 13

To Elbridge Gerry, 19 August 1782 JA Gerry, Elbridge


To Elbridge Gerry, 19 August 1782 Adams, John Gerry, Elbridge
To Elbridge Gerry
Aug. 19. 1782 My dear Friend

I am ashamed to let Mr Guild1 go without a long Letter to you—but you must pardon me. Mr Guild calls upon me for my Dispatches.

There are Conferences begun about Preliminaries at Paris and Things are tending to a Congress, but I fancy they would have gone on much better, if Congriss had adhered to your their first Plan. Never did the Neccessity of a clear and firm Conduct appear more plainly to me than upon this occasion.2

It was my Intention to have written you at large upon affairs—but Mr Guilds obligations to go sooner than expected have disappointed me. As some Compensation however I inclose to you all the newest Papers. In to days it is said France insists on a formal Acknowledgment of American Independence, that her Ministers may meet a Congress.3


RC (MHi:Gerry II Papers).


For Benjamin Guild, future husband of AA's cousin Elizabeth Quincy, see AFC , 3:322. Guild sailed from Amsterdam on the Apollo and arrived at Boston on 9 October. He carried a packet for AA, but its content and other letters that Guild may have carried cannot be positively identified (same, 5:11).


That is, Congress should not have appointed a five-member joint peace commission in 1781 in place of his 1779 commission as the sole minister authorized to negotiate an Anglo-American peace treaty.


It is not known what papers JA sent Gerry, but see the report from Paris dated 12 Aug. in the Gazette d'Amsterdam of 20 August.

To James Warren, 19 August 1782 JA Warrren, James


To James Warren, 19 August 1782 Adams, John Warrren, James
To James Warren
The Hague August 19 1782 My dear Sir

There is now an Harmony so entire between France America and Holland, that I think Affairs must come to a good Conclusion, if they do not it will I am perswaded be our Fault. But I am determined it shall not be mine, and I dont believe it will be Mr Jays.

Spain is now inclined to make a Treaty with us, as I am informed, and the Comte d'Aranda is authorised to treat with him at Paris, this however, must not be made publick tho it may be communicated in Confidence. Mr Dana Seems weary, and I dont wonder. You have no Conception of the Torments that Mr Jay and he and I have endured.

However the Foundations of great Things are never laid without Patience and long suffering.

Shelburne and Fox have Split upon a nice Point and the latter has shewn himself I think a profound Statesman: the later a Selfish, and equivocal Character. He must come finally and with an ill Grace to the Idea of the other, or he will put the last hand to the ruin of that Country.

The Plan Seems to be now to agree if they can upon Some, Preliminaries at Paris and then have a Congress to settle the Treaty, after discussing every Thing.

If Gibraltar falls and the English have no signal Sucess the national Discouragement, will increase, So as to force a Peace perhaps. If they relieve Gibraltar, which will be very hazardous, if they have good News from the East Indies, and especially if they have any naval Advantages they will Struggle for another Campaign or two. Naval Victories intoxicate them to Frenzy—But these are but Drams to a Man in an Hectick.

If there Should be serious Negotiations for Peace, We shall have many Ugly Questions to debate. I dont intend to be answerable for any bad decision of them—but I cannot answer that they will not be badly decided. Canada, Nova scotia, Boundaries, Tories, Fisheries 256are Bones to pick. But the Pretensions of France, Spain and Holland will not be more easily adjusted, nor the Pretentions of Neutrals, in short the Field is so vast, and the objects of such Magnitude, that the first Glance of the Eye affrightens one, but I have looked at it so long that it has lost its Terror to me. Why should one by anxious—it is easy for a Man to do his Duty. He always has this in his Power and this is as much as he ought to have.

I hope Mrs Warren will give my Dutch Negotiation a Place in her History.1 It is one of the most extraordinary, in all the diplomatic Records, But it has succeeded to a Marvel.


RC (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.); endorsed: “Mr J Adams Letr Augt 82.”


See Mercy Otis Warren's response to this comment in her letter of 25 Oct., below. Presumably to insure that she did give adequate treatment to his Dutch negotiations, JA enclosed his Collection of State-Papers with this letter (from James Warren, 1 Nov., Adams Papers; Warren-Adams Letters , 2:181–183).