Papers of John Adams, volume 15

From John Thaxter

From John Thaxter

From Edmund Jenings, 7 [August] 1783 Jenings, Edmund Adams, John
From Edmund Jenings
21st. My Dear Sir London July [August] 7th. 1783.1

I am much Obliged to you for your Letter of the 26th Ult. it was so long that I had heard from you, that I was fearful either mine or yours had Miscarried especially as I did not recive One from his Excellency until a Month after date.2

We Agree in the effect that the late Proclamation’s relative to the American Trade will have on the Temper of our Countrymen, who must besides at this Time be irritated on discoveries lately made, for it seems the English are at the bottom of the late disturbances at Philadelphia— two officers concerned therein are arrived in this Town. I saw, I believe one of them this Day He wears the american Cockade and the Artillery Uniform.3 The Refugees here have been some time in Expectation of an important blow being struck in America, a very notorious one said six Weeks Ago that He did not Prophecy it, but Knew it from certain Documents. This is alarming as it shows there is still a dangerous Correspondence Held up between The English Partizans on both Sides of the Water The Discovery of this may serve to unite our people & oblige them to take the most Effectual Measures to prevent Mischief in future.

I have good reason to think that the alien Duties will be taken off of America Ships trading to Ireland.


I am sorry to hear you have not yet Accounts from our State with respect to your Negociation. it has passed an Act of Assembly touching the Money in the English Funds. but I Know not what it is.4

it is said that they are arming here their Navy & that a war will break out, but with whom, for what, and how to be carried on is not Settled.

I drank Tea yesterday on board the Commerce Captn Thruxton, who I understand took during the War Seventy five English Flags.5 He leaves this port next Tuesday, Doctr Bancroft goes with Him. Captn Falkner leaves Town to Day, his Ship is crouded, with Passengers.

My Ennemy arrived in Town the day before yesterday. I found myself by Accident under the same Roof & got away as soon as possible. my Pamphlet is printed & makes 30 Odd pages in Quarto— the Title is the Candor of ——— Manifested by his Behaviour to E J. a Title, which I think will never be forgiven.— I sent three of them to our Acquaintance near St Pauls, one directed for Him; another for his Lady and the third for whomever He pleases. my Letter to Him containing six Sheets of Paper which He has not Answered is inserted therein. I am told He is miserable and I am sorry for Him, He might extricate Himself from his Difficulties, but seems to be overawed.6 Many of my Acquaintance have seen the Work, and are Struck with Astonishment & Horror. & advise me by all means to send it Abroad. it will go with Captn Thruxton.7

Having finished this business thus far at least I am Easy and am ready to Attend our Friend B for now I think my Ennemy can’t do me or perhaps any one Mischief. He will have enough upon his Hands to clear up his own Character.— when B comes to London pray let Him leave His address, in Vine Street, for me [. . .] whether I am there when He calls.8

I beg my best Respects to Mrs Ridley I Hear She is Very Well I would not have the present brave boy spoilt, but there is danger of it, if He is the only one.9

How does Mr & Mrs Jay? is there no new Arrangements of Ministers yet? our Excellent Friend is, I fancy out of Patience.

My Dear Friend / Adieu.

P. S. His Excellencys Account with me will be soon settled, I owe Eight or ten Ducats to Him.

you recollect the Hints given me whilst I was at Brussells, relative to the Refugees, I have talked with the Gentleman who conveyed 206them to a Noble Lord, & find from Him that they made a very great & useful Impression on Him.10

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr Jennings / July 7. 1783 / from London” and by John Thaxter, “Rec’d Aug. 10. 1783”; notation: “21st.” Filmed at 7 July.


This letter was written in August rather than July. This is evident from Jenings’ reference in the sixth paragraph to Capt. Thomas Truxtun, who sailed on 13 Aug., and his reference in the seventh paragraph to the arrival of Henry Laurens, who reached London on 3 Aug. (Jay, Unpublished Papers , 2:572; Laurens to the commissioners, 9 Aug., below).


Jenings presumably refers to JA’s letter of 27 June, above. No letter of the 26th has been found.


The “officers” were Lt. John Sullivan and Capt. Henry Carberry, both of whom had been involved in the June mutiny that forced Congress to flee Philadelphia. See the letters to the commissioners from the president of Congress, 15 July, and note 11, above, and from Henry Laurens, 9 Aug., below. See also John Thaxter’s letter to JA of 7 Aug., below.


In its April session the Maryland General Assembly passed a law appointing an agent to recover and dispose of its Bank of England stock held by trustees appointed before the war. Samuel Chase was named to the post and soon set off for Europe. Chase’s attempt to retrieve the stock, however, was no more successful than the 1779–1780 effort in which Jenings had been involved. The matter was not resolved until 1806 (vol. 9:131; Kathryn L. Behrens, Paper Money in Maryland, 1727–1789, Baltimore, 1923, p. 88–94).


Capt. Thomas Truxtun, one of the most successful privateersmen of the Revolution, had turned to commercial shipping at the end of the war. Later, in the 1790s, he served with distinction as a commodore in the U.S. Navy during the Quasi-War with France ( DAB ).


Jenings’ “Acquaintance near St Pauls” was Edward Bridgen. In his pamphlet, Mr. Laurens’s True State of the Case, Henry Laurens wrote that on 6 Aug. he visited Bridgen, who informed him that Jenings had “delivered him three printed Pamphlets, entituled—‘The Candour of Henry Laurens, Esq; manifested by his behaviour to Mr. Edmund Jenings;’ one of which he said was for Mrs. Bridgen, one for Mr. Bridgen, and the third marked on the Title-page in Mr. Jenings’s handwriting, ‘For whomsoever Mr. Bridgen pleases.’ This, said Mr. Bridgen, was probably intended for you, will you take it? Aye, I replied, with all my heart; I am sure I have treated Mr. Jenings with great candour, and have no objection to seeing what he has to say upon that subject, though it appears to me to be one of Mr. Jenings’s cunning tricks, to be circulating his Book in private.” The letter mentioned by Jenings was his to Bridgen of 30 June, which was included in his pamphlet (Laurens, Papers , 16:278). For Bridgen’s role in the affair of the anonymous letters, see Jenings’ letter of 3 June, and note 2, above.


Jenings does not indicate it here, but the copies of his pamphlet, The Candor of Henry Laurens, were entrusted to Dr. Edward Bancroft when he sailed on the Commerce. Upon learning of this, Henry Laurens sent 42 copies of his own pamphlet, Mr. Laurens’s True State of the Case, with his 11 Sept. letter to Robert R. Livingston (Laurens, Papers , 16:338).


“B” is probably Thomas Barclay, U.S. consul to France, who in April had requested Jenings’ assistance in settling American accounts in Europe. Barclay had arrived in London on 3 Aug. with Henry Laurens, John Thaxter, and others (vol. 14:415; from Thaxter, 4 Aug., above).


Ann Richardson Ridley was pregnant and gave birth to a son, Lucius Lloyd, on 24 Sept. (JQA, Diary , 1:194). She was thereafter very ill and died on 21 Jan. 1784. She was preceded in death by Lucius, who died on 8 Jan. (MHi:Ridley Journal; from Matthew Ridley, 10 Feb. 1784, Adams Papers). Essex (1776–1796) was Ridley’s surviving son (Jay, Unpublished Papers , 2:591).


Presumably Jenings’ comment refers to something that he learned at Brussels and related to JA when JA resided in Paris during the peace negotiations because none of Jenings’ letters from Brussels contains any extensive comments on the loyalists.