Papers of John Adams, volume 14

To Robert R. Livingston, 4 December 1782 Adams, John Livingston, Robert R.
To Robert R. Livingston
Sir, Paris. 4th. Novemr. Decr. 1782—

It is with much pleasure that I transmit to you the Preliminary Treaty, between the King of Great-Britain and the United-States of America.1 The Mississippi, the Western Lands, Sagadahoc, & the Fisheries are secured, as well as we could, and I hope what is done for the Refugees will be pardoned—

As the Objects, for which I ever abandoned my family & Country, are thus far accomplished. I now beg leave to resign all my Employments in Europe.2 They are soon enumerated; the first is the Commission to borrow money in Holland, and the second is my Credence to their High-Mightinesses. These two should be filled up immediately; and as Mr: Laurens was originally designed to that Country, and my Mission there was merely owing to his misfortune, I hope that Congress will send him a full Power for that Court—

The Commission for Peace I hope will be fully executed before this reaches you; but if it should not, as the Terms are fixed, I should not choose to stay in Europe merely for the honor of affixing my signature to the definitive Treaty, and I see no necessity for filling up my place; but, if Congress should think otherwise, I hope they will think Mr: Dana the best intituled to it—

With great respect & esteem I have the honor to be, Sir / Your / Most Obedt: & humle: servt.

John Adams

RC in Charles Storer's hand (PCC, Misc. Papers, Reel 1, f. 740–742); internal address: “Robert. R. Livingston Esqr. / Secrey. of State for the department / of Foreign Affairs.—”; endorsed: “John Adams / November 14. 1782.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 108.


The copy of the preliminary treaty enclosed by JA is not with this letter in the PCC, Misc. Papers, but is with a duplicate of this letter in PCC, No. 84, IV, f. 301–308.


This letter and others from Henry Laurens, Thomas Jefferson, and Francis Dana were referred to a congressional committee that reported on 1 April 1783. The committee offered resolutions to accept the resignations of JA and Laurens, notify Jefferson that his mission to France was no longer necessary, and approve Dana's return to America. Congress adopted the resolutions concerning Laurens, Jefferson, and Dana, but, according to James Madison's notes, “the Eastern delegates were averse to doing any thing as to Mr. Adams, untill further advices sd. be recd.” ( JCC , 24:225–227; Madison, Papers, Congressional Series , 6:425). JA informed AA of his decision to resign in a letter also dated 113 4 Dec., and Arthur Lee wrote her on 23 April 1783 to advise her that “you may rely upon it, that leave will be given as he requests,” but Congress took no further notice of JA's resignation ( AFC , 5:46–47, 131). For Livingston's view of the matter, see his letter of 14 April 1783, below. Writing also to AA2 on 4 Dec., JA wrote that he would return home rather than have her come to Europe and encounter “the follies and depravities of the old world, which is quite as bad as that before the Flood” (same, p. 47).