Papers of John Adams, volume 14

To Isaac Smith Sr., 15 December 1782 Adams, John Smith, Isaac Sr.
To Isaac Smith Sr.
Sr: Paris Decr 15th. 1782. (Copy)

I have the Pleasure to congratulate you, upon the provisional Arrangement of our Affairs with England. The Terms are as good as we could obtain, and much better, considering all the Difficulties and Dangers we were in, than could have been expected.

The Fishery I think is so well secured, that we have no cause to complain, and as soon as Peace is concluded you may revive your long neglected Acquaintance at Cape-Ann, and take a ride there as often as your Health or Inclination shall require.

For the rest of my Days I shall consider my self as a Marblehead or Cape-Ann Man, and I think they ought to vote me the Freedom of their Cities in a Box of Heart of Oak, or at least to send my Wife a Quintal of Dumb Fish once a Year; for their Fisheries have cost me all my Happiness for these three Years, and very nearly cost me my Life, and her her Husband.1

My best Respects &c

FC in Richard Cranch's hand (MHi:Cranch Family Papers); internal address: “(To Isaac Smith Esqr., Boston.)”; docketed: “Copy of a Lettr. / from his Exy. J: A / to I: Smith Esqr / Decr. 15th. 1782.”


JA also wrote to Richard Cranch on 15 Dec. ( AFC , 5:47–48). In his reply of 26 June 1783, Cranch wrote that he had seen several of JA's letters, noting particularly that to Isaac Smith Sr. “about the Fishery.” It also had been seen by members of the General Court from the “Fishing Towns,” and Cranch believed “that something higher than the ‘Freedom of their Cities in a Box of Heart of Oak, or a Quintal of dumb Fish’ . . . is very seriously tho’t of by them; and, as I think, by the People at large. I think it is the general Wish that He whose great Talents in Negotiation (under God) have given us Peace, and whose unshaken Firmness has caused our ‘Independance to be Independant,’ should be our first Magistrate” ( AFC , 5:185–188). On 16 March 1789 after JA returned to America, the town of Marblehead voted, in return for JA's support of the fisheries, “to 132furnish your Table with a Small Share of the fruits of your good Services.” On 25 Oct. 1789 AA told JA that “I have received the fish in four Boxes & tried some of it, which proves very fine” ( AFC , 8:340, 429–430).

To James Warren, 15 December 1782 Adams, John Warren, James
To James Warren
Dear Sir Paris Decr. 15. 1782

This goes with the Preliminary Treaty between the Crown of G. Britain and the United States of America—it is not to be in force untill France and Great Britain Shall agree and sign. When this will be is not yet known, it is Supposed that the principal Points remaining are Spanish or Dutch.

The great Interests of our Country in the West and in the East are Secured as well as her Independence. St Croix is the Boundary against Nova Scotia. The Fisheries are very Safe. the Missisippi and Western Lands to the middle of the great Lakes, are as well secured to Us as they could be by England.— All these Advantages would not have been obtained if We had litterally pursued our Instructions, the Necessity of departing from which in some degree will I hope be our Excuse. The King of Sweeden is the first Power in Europe who has invited Us to an alliance— the Commissioners are Arrived here, and the Treaty will be soon made. The other neutral Powers may possibly acknowledge our Independence all together.— it is possible, that England herself may advise it, but this is no more than Conjecture. The K. of Sweeden has inserted in his Commission an handsome Compliment to Us. Says that he had a great desire to form a Connection with a People who had So well established their Independence, and by their Wisdom and Bravery So well deserved it.

England has been wise to be the third Power in Europe to acknowledge Us. Is it my Vanity which makes me believe that the Dutch Negotiation has wrought this mighty Reverse, and carried Us tryumphantly to the End of all our Wishes? without this, the War would have continued for years, and the House of Bourbon so pressed for Peace and We so dependent on them that We should have lost the Western Country and the Fisheries. and very probably been left in a Truce, in a state of Poverty and Weakness, which would have made Us long the miserable satellites of some great European Planet.

It is the Providence of God, not the good Will of England of France, nor yet the Wisdom and Firmness of Congress that has done this.— To that Providence let us with humble Gratitude and 133Adoration ascribe it.— Without making an ostentation of Piety upon the occasion however, let Us turn our Thoughts to what is future. The Union of the states, an Affectionate Respect and Attachment among all their Members, the Education of the rising Generation, the Formation of a national system of Œconomy Policy, and Manners are the great Concerns which still lye before us.— We must guard as much as Prudence will permit against the Contagion of European Manners, and that excessive Influx of Commerce Luxury and Inhabitants from abroad, which will soon embarrass Us.

with great Esteem, your Fnd.

RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); internal address: “Gen. Warren”; endorsed: “Mr J. Adams / Decr 82.”