Papers of John Adams, volume 13

From Francis Dana, 30 August 1782 Dana, Francis JA


From Francis Dana, 30 August 1782 Dana, Francis Adams, John
From Francis Dana
St: Petersbourg Augt: 19/30 1782 Dear Sir

I received your letter of Aug: 7th. yesterday afternoon, and at the same time the packet you mention. I thank you most cordially for your sentiments upon “something of consequence”: but I am no longer at liberty to pursue a course like that you point out. My last dispatches, which I presume you did not read, tho they came open under your Cover, are clear and decided upon that affair. I am glad of it. They have relieved me from much anxiety.1 By the way the or-411dinance relative to marine affairs which I am told is enclosed,2 has not accompanied the letter. If it lays with you, pray forward it by the first post, and bear in remembrance my request about your treaty—oblige me if possible—I have not recd. the Genl's: picture. I wish you had thought to mention by whom you sent it, that I might have made enquiry about it. If Mr: Thaxter shou'd not have sailed, pray beg him without fail, to buy two sets of Nugent's New Pocket Dictionary French and English printed for J. Ash London 1778. and to present one set to my new correspondent and the other to Mrs: Dana.3 If he shou'd have sailed will you please in my name to present my correspondent with one set by the earliest opportunity. Mrs: D. may wait awhile, she is not so pressed to learn French, and let me know when you send it, or whether M. T. takes them.

Who is your present assistant, I think your letter is not the old hand.4 The enclosed you will be kind enoh to forward by the earliest opportunity. The one you will receive mark'd duplicate, is a copy of it. They must therefore go by different vessels; let this be attended to.

Your slow stepped people have shown the world they can occasionally assume the quick step, especially when they are apprehensive something is to be lost, or in danger of being lost if they dont strike into it. They marched in pretty good time with your Musicians. Now they have got to the Top of the Mountain, they must be allowed some time to take new breath, and to look about them; perhaps the heighth of it has made them a little dizzy when they cast an eye down upon their Flatts. They will soon feel the benefit, it is to be hoped, of a freer air, and acquire a degree of elasticity they have long been wholly unaccustomed to—Health to their Body Politic.

Fox's system wou'd save the British Nation from destruction: but it hath pleased Heaven to pour down upon their heads a few more vials of wrath, for their abominable abominations.

Adieu my dear Sir. May God defend, save, and prosper our Country.

Your's affectionatelyFRA DANA

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed by John Thaxter: “Mr. Dana 19/30 August 1782.” Some loss of text due to wear at the fold.


The dispatches included copies of Robert R. Livingston's letters of 2 March and 22 May, to which Dana replied on the 30th (Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 5:209–213, 436, 679– 680 670 ; and above). It was the letter of 2 March that relieved Dana's anxiety, and specifically Livingston's admonition that “You will continue, I presume, to appear only in a 412private character, as it would give Congress great pain to see you assume any other without an absolute certainty that you would be received and acknowledged.” Essentially this meant that Dana should do nothing to execute his mission as minister plenipotentiary to Russia, a state of affairs that reflected the longstanding French attitude, expressed by the French minister at Philadelphia in May 1781, that “the appointment of Mr. Dana . . . appears to be at least premature, and the opinion of the council is that this deputy ought not to make any use of his powers at this moment” (same, 4:453). On 10 May, in a letter that he submitted to Congress and enclosed with his of 29 May, Livingston made the prohibition against Dana's acting even more explicit, and on 27 May, when Congress returned the letter to Livingston, it resolved, “That Mr. Dana be instructed not to present his letters of credence to the Court of Petersburg, until he shall have obtained satisfactory assurances that he will be duly received and recognized in his public character” (same, 5:410–414, 446–447; JCC , 22:301).


Mentioned in Livingston's letter of 2 March, it is presumably the 2 Dec. 1781 “ordinance, ascertaining what captures on water shall be lawful” as amended on 26 Feb. 1782 ( JCC , 21:1153–1158; 22:99–100).


It is not known whether Thaxter procured copies of Thomas Nugent's work and sent them on to their intended recipients, but a copy of the 1781 edition of The New Pocket Dictionary of the French and English Languages (Corrected and Improved) by J. S. Charrier is in JA's library at MB ( Catalogue of JA's Library ).


The letter was in Charles Storer's hand rather than the more familiar one of John Thaxter.

From John Jay, 1 September 1782 Jay, John JA


From John Jay, 1 September 1782 Jay, John Adams, John
From John Jay
Paris 1 Septr 1782 Dr Sir

I am this moment informed of a safe opportunity of conveying you a Letter, and as such another may not soon offer, I must not omit it.

My opinion coincides with yours as to the Impropriety of treating with our Enemies on any other than an equal footing. We have told mr Oswald so, and he has sent an Express to London to communicate it, and to require further Instructions. He has not yet recd. an answer. Herewith enclosed is a Copy of his Commission.1 Mr Vaughan has no public Character. Mr Fitzherbert is employed to talk about Preliminaries with this Court. Nothing I think will be done until the Return of Mr Oswalds Express. We shall then be enabled to form some Judgment of the british ministry's real Intentions.

Adieu. I have only time to add that I am with great Esteem Sir Your most obt. Servt

John Jay

RC (Adams Papers).


This is Oswald's commission of 25 July. A copy of that document, possibly the one enclosed by Jay is in the Adams Papers at that date. The most obvious difference between the commissions of Alleyne Fitzherbert and Richard Oswald is that Fitzherbert's appointment to negotiate a peace treaty was done under the King's inherent power to conduct foreign policy and appoint diplomatic representatives, while Oswald's was done pursuant to the statute, 22 George III, ch. 46, assented to in June, enabling the King to conclude a peace or truce with America. But the principal problem posed by Oswald's commission was that it failed to mention negotiations with the United States of America. Instead it authorized, empowered, and required Oswald “to treat, consult 413of and conclude with any Commissioner or Commissioners, named or to be named, by the said Colonies or Plantation, or Plantations, and any Body or Bodies Corporate or Politic, or any Assembly or Assemblies, or Description of Men, or any Person or Persons whatsoever, a Peace or a Truce with the said Colonies or Plantations, or any of them, or any part or parts thereof.” For the change in wording that made negotiations possible, see Oswald's second commission of 21 Sept. , below. JA included Oswald's 25 July commission, probably derived from the copy sent by Jay, in his letter of 16 Sept. to Robert R. Livingston (PCC, No. 84, IV, f. 169–172), but for the text of the commission see Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 5:613–614.