Papers of John Adams, volume 14

From Benjamin Guild, 3 December 1782 Guild, Benjamin Adams, John
From Benjamin Guild
Boston Dec. 3. 1782.

I had the honor of writing your Excellency a few days past, via France. Nothing important has taken place since. The French troops are embarking on board the fleet in this port, but I apprehend they will not sail before next month. It is said Genl Rochambeau is gone to Philadelphia to embark from thence for Europe: and that the fleet now here consisting of 12 ships of the line & 3 frigates will proceed direct to the West-Indies.1


Our American affairs, as I hinted in my last, wear a favorable aspect. The army is respectable, and gives great satisfaction to its commander; goverment is regular, and as far as I have been able to observe, is as nervous as ever. Many parts of the country are encreasing in population, and wealth. It is true that many places in this neighborhood bear the marks of war and devastation. In Charlestown we see many remaining footsteps of British cruelty; but at the same time we see agreeable evidences of American activity & exertion. A number of elegant buildings are already erected, and many more intended. The present place of worship was a British Blockhouse, but a convenient edifice is soon to be built.

In Cambridge many fields & groves have been laid waste. The University is stripped of many surrounding ornaments. But the sciences I am told, are as closely and as advantageously pursued as ever. The publick commencement this year gave great satisfaction.—2 The French language is taught— Dr Warren has been lately chosen professor of physic:3 and I am persuaded that in process of time that University will assume more than its ancient lustre.—

I was so particular in my last as to supercede the necessaty of enlarging upon several subjects.— Our frontiers have been molested in some instances by the enemy which has occasined some complaints from Genl Washington to Sr Guy Carlton; this it seems has produced an answer declaring the pacific disposition of himself & his master the King, and in such strong terms as to appear a little extraordinary. He expresses his disapprobation of all encroachments & his expectations of peace.—

We are waiting in this part of the world to know the issue of the present campaign and of political movements in Europe.—

The people however appear to be less anxious than I have ever yet known them: and their ability as well as determination to carry on the war, should necessaty require it, is an agreeable reflection.—

I am your Excellency's most / obliged and most humble / Servant.

Benj. Guild

Compliments to Mess’rs Thaxter & Storer—to Mr Dumas & family—

I wrote Mr Thaxter per last opportunity.

B G.

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency / John Adams Esqr / at the Hague,”; endorsed: “Mr Guild 3. Decr. 1782 / ansd April 9. Recd 8. / 1783.”


The French fleet departed from Boston for the West Indies on 24 Dec. (Dull, French Navy and Amer. Independence , p. 333), and the Pennsylvania Gazette of 22 Jan. 1783 112reported that Rochambeau had sailed from Annapolis on the 8th aboard the frigate Le Emeralde.


On 17 July Harvard held a public commencement for only the second time since 1773. AA called it “Brilliant” and CA, who attended it, returned “much gratified with the exhibitions” ( AFC , 4:344, 348, 350).


John Warren was appointed Hersey Professor of Anatomy and Surgery on 22 Nov. (Morison, Three Centuries of Harvard , p. 168–169).

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).