Papers of John Adams, volume 14

To Benjamin Franklin, 1 November 1782 Adams, John Franklin, Benjamin
To Benjamin Franklin
Sir Paris November 1. 1782

In answer to the Letter, your Excellency did me, the Honour to write me on the 15 of October, a Copy of which you delivered me Yesterday at Mr Oswalds the original not being received,1 I have only to Say that there is Money enough in the Hands of Messieurs Wilhem and Jan Willink, Nicholas and Jacob Van Staphorst and De la Lande and Fynje, of Amsterdam, to discharge the Interest of the Ten Million of Guilders borrowed in Holland by the King of France under the Warranty of the States General, if it is expected and insisted that Congress Should pay it.

But the Question is, who shall order it to be paid.— I dont think my self authorized, by any Powers I have to dispose of that Money. Congress have only impowerd me to borrow the Money, and deposit it in the Hands of Bankers, to be drawn out by Congress. and I have 10advised and requested, that Assembly, to draw the whole, without leaving me the Power to dispose of any Part of it, beyond my own Salary, a little Assistance to our distressed Countrymen, escaped from British Prisons, and a few trifling Charges that necessarily arise.

There is also another Difficulty in the Way at present.— By the Contract, the Money is not to be paid, untill a Ratification arrives from Congress. a Quintuplicate of the Contract went by Captain Grinnell who is arrived at Boston so that We may expect a Ratification and too probably Draughts for the whole Money by the first ship.

It is therefore impossible for me to engage, absolutly to pay it, untill We hear farther from Congress. But upon the Arrival of the Ratification, if no Contrary orders arrive with it, and your Excellency and Mr Jay advise me to do it, I will direct, if I can, or at least I will desire the Houses who now have the Money to pay it, if insisted on by this Court, which I hope, however will be thought better of.

I have the Honour to be

LbC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency B. Franklin Esq.”; APM Reel 108.


Vol. 13:531–532, but see descriptive note, and note 1.

From James Warren, 1 November 1782 Warren, James Adams, John
From James Warren
My dear Sir. Milton Novr 1. 17821

I made my Acknowlegdments of the rect. of your favours of June 17. & July the 2d. by Capt. Grinnall who sailed for Amsterdam about a fortnight ago,2 since which I have the pleasure of yours of Augt. 19th. with the Inclosed Pamphlet.3 Conveying a State of the origin & progress of the Treaty with Holland, an Event which will make a figure in History in Proportion to its Importance, when Justice must be done to the Integrity, & ability, the Zeal & Perseverance of him who Negotiaciated it, All the Honest part of America do that now equal to his Wishes. but there are others, & some of them in high Stations, & great Confidence who have been Stunnd. & mortified at this Success some of them perhaps Influenced by Envy & some by Interest. but you know all about it: I need not tell you that. Foreigners of high rank & Character would not beleive it possible. That The 11Mighty of this part of the Globe, Condemned the Measures taken to Effect it. & at last beleived the Accounts of the success of them with reluctance. I wish I could know your Ideas of our present domestic Situation, of Men vested with Imperial powers, & what is as Bad furnished with Sources of Corruption equal to a King of Britain, of the Sagacity of that Congress which has found Abilities & Integrity where the Congress in 1775 & 76, &c would never have suspected they were to be found. but I quit a Subject I hate to reflect upon. I have Conceived a great Opinion of Mr Jay. he has Conducted if I am well Informed with great dignity. I dont beleive it will be your fault or his if matters do not Conclude well. if I was to give you two Instructions they should be very discretionary. I have some Conception what you & he & Mr Dana have Endured. I dont wonder if you are all weary. The Good Dr. is now Appointed to Negotiate with Sweden. no doubt he will Succeed, & Add a new Plume to his Cap4

I wish Mr. Jay may make an Advantageous Treaty with Spain. it will be no unfavourable Circumstance to have it done at Paris instead of Madrid, or any other place or places where he has danced Attendance on that Court.

Great Expectations & fears are formed here upon the fate of Gibralter if it falls we Expect a Peace. if it does not we Expect at least Another Campaign but I hope we shall be prepared for either

You have indeed a large Feild before you. The Questions to be decided are Numerous & Important. quite enough so without descending to the Trifling Consideration of the Tories. & can it be possible at this Time of day that the British Cabinet should Interest themselves in their favour what would they do for them, surely they would not wish them to have Neponset Hill. they deserve Nothing. but if they must have any thing they can Expect no more than the Money their Estates sold for. out of the respective Treasurys where it is lodged. & that I hope is more than they will ever get. at least till Britain pays for all the devastations made on the Estates of honest Men. Mrs. W. writes you by this Oppy. Great Events must find a place in her History especially when Impartiality & Friendship Combine to Insert them.5 That you may Enjoy Health & Happiness is the Prayer of your Friend.


Not a Word about the dear Commonwealth of M. Yes The first Magistrate is—the Executive Council is—The Legislature is in the 12Usual Stile sometimes makeing wise Laws, & sometimes not, however Constantly makeing New, or repealing old ones. The present Members of Congress Elected are Gerry Osgood, S. Higgison, Gorham Holton, & J W.6 I beleive the last must stay at Home, & Cultivate his Farm

Novr 24th.

The preceeding Letter was designed to go by the Firebrand, who slipd away unexpectedly & left that & many others for you behind. other owners might have been Complaisant enough at least to have taken Mrs. Adams. 7 but even Fortune Cannot Change the spots of the Beast or alter the Skin of the Ethiopian.8 since She sailed Nothing worthy your Notice has taken place. The French Fleet are still here & not quite ready for Sea. The French Army is Expected soon in order to Embark on Board the Fleet Mr Gorham & Doctr. Holton set out for Congress in a few days. I suppose Higgison will refuse. & I am Uncertain whether Gerry will go

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Warren Nov. 1. 1782.”


JA probably received Warren's letter on 8 April 1783 as part of a packet of “Lettres Américaines” that C. W. F. Dumas received at The Hague by way of London and immediately forwarded to JA at Paris under cover of a letter dated 3 April, below. Then it is likely that this letter, with Warren's criticism of Congress’ conduct of foreign affairs and mention of his election as a Massachusetts member of Congress, provoked JA's most sustained, comprehensive, and critical analysis of American foreign policy. The critique centered on Congress’ incompetence, French influence, and the machinations of Benjamin Franklin, for which see JA's letter to Warren of 9 April 1783, and note 2, below.


Warren had replied to JA's letters on 7 Oct. (vol. 13:127–128, 148–150; 518–520).


The enclosure was JA's A Collection of State-Papers (same, p. 255–256).


Congress commissioned Franklin to negotiate a treaty with Sweden on 28 Sept., for which see Arthur Lee's letter of 1 Oct., and note 3 (same, p. 508–509, 510). The treaty was officially signed at Paris on 3 April 1783 (Miller, Treaties , 2:123). For reports of an earlier signing, on 5 Feb., see JA's 7 Feb. letter to Dumas, and note 2, below.


Mercy Otis Warren's letter of 25 Oct. (vol. 13:541–544).


The Massachusetts delegation to Congress consisted of Elbridge Gerry, Jonathan Jackson, John Lowell, Samuel Osgood, George Partridge, Increase Sumner, all elected in June 1782; and Nathaniel Gorham, Stephen Higginson, Samuel Holten, and James Warren, who were elected in October. At this time only Jackson and Osgood were in attendance, but Gorham reached Philadelphia in mid-December, and Higginson and Holten arrived in Feb. 1783. James Warren never served (Smith, Letters of Delegates , 19:xx–xxi).


AA's letters to JA and John Thaxter of 25 and 26 Oct. 1782, respectively, to which JA replied on 29 Jan. 1783 and Thaxter on the 30th ( AFC , 5:21–28, 82–86).


Jeremiah, 18:23