Papers of John Adams, volume 15

To the President of Congress, 1 September 1783 Adams, John President of Congress Boudinot, Elias
To the President of Congress
Sir Paris September 1 1783

Wednesday the third of this Month is appointed for the Signature of the Definitive Treaties of Peace. Unable to obtain, any addition or Explanation, We have been obliged to agree to sign the Provisional Articles over again with only a Preamble, making them a Definitive Treaty. No Regulation of Commerce is agreed upon, and indeed we have no Commission or Authority to make any.— We have thus lost Seven or eight months of our time.

When the definitive Treaty shall be signed, I suppose, our Commission for Peace will be executed. I expected long before this to have receiv’d my Letter of Recall to their High Mightinesses and to the Prince of Orange, in which case I should now have been at Liberty to reembark for America, but as it is not arrived, I cannot with entire Decency to Congress, or to the States General, or to the Prince, force myself away and a letter of Recall will not probably now arrive untill it will be too late for a Fall Passage, so that I shall be necessitated to undertake another Winter Voyage,1 or wait untill Spring.


I beg Leave to recommend Mr. Thaxter, the bearer of this, and of the Definitive Treaty to Congress. He is descended from Several of the most ancient and honourable families in the Massachusetts. He has had the best Education which our Country affords. He has been now more than five years in the public Service and without the least reward, all that has been allowed him not having been enough for his necessary Expences He is exceeded by no one in Industry, or Fidelity, is not deficient in Address, and is well acquainted with the French Language, nor ignorant of the Dutch and has a just View of our foreign Affairs. if Congress has occasion for a Secretary of Legation & Chargé des Affaires in any part of Europe I am perswaded they will not be able to find a Man better qualified for the Place, or who has a better Title, to it, in Point of Merit

With the greatest Respect, I have the Honour to be / Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant

John Adams.2

RC in JQA’s hand (PCC, No. 84, V, f. 177–178); internal address: “His Excellency E. Boudinot Esqr: / President of Congress.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 108.


At this point in the Letterbook copy there is a heavily canceled passage that cannot be read. In view of JA’s history it likely was a criticism of the conduct of American foreign policy that JA decided was inappropriate in a letter that was also a recommendation of John Thaxter. JA also wrote to AA on 1 Sept. ( AFC , 5:231–233). In the first paragraph of that letter he included much the same information as in this one but then offered his observations on the obstacles that he and Francis Dana faced in the execution of their missions. Of particular note is his comment specifically aimed at Robert R. Livingston but by inference also targeting Benjamin Franklin and the Comte de Vergennes. JA wrote of Livingston that “our late Minister of foreign affairs appears to have been a mere Puppet danced upon French Wires electrified from Passy. I hope there will be, an End of this Philosophical and political Conjuration, if not, I am determined to get out of its striking Distance.”


In JA’s hand.

To Elbridge Gerry, 3 September 1783 Adams, John Gerry, Elbridge
To Elbridge Gerry
My dear Mr Gerry Paris. September 3. 1783.

The third of September, will be more remarkable for the Signature of the definitive Treaties than for the Battle of Naseby or Worcester or the Death of Oliver Cromwell.—1 We could obtain no Alteration from the Provisional Articles. We could Obtain no explanation of the Articles respecting the Tories nor any Limitation respecting Interest or Execution for Debts. I am however less anxious about these Things than others.

Our first object is to secure the Liberties of our Citizens in the 243Seperate States. Our second to maintain and Strengthen the Confederation. Our Third to purge the Minds of our People of their Fears, their diffidence of themselves and Admiration of strangers, and our fourth to defend ourselves against the Wiles of Europe. My Apprehensions of the Importance of our foreign Affairs, have been much increased by a Residence of five or Six Years in Europe— I see so much Enmity to the Principle of our Governments, to the Purity of our Morals, the Simplicity of our Manners, the honest Integrity, and Sincerity of our hearts, to our Contentment with Poverty, our Love of Labour, our Affection for Liberty and our Country. I see so many Proofs of their Hatred of all this, and of their Dread of it, both as a dangerous Example among their own corrupted debauched Subjects, and as a sure and certain source of Power and Grandeur; I see so many Artifices practised to debauch every Body you send, or who comes to Europe; so many practised by them in America itself hidden, covered up, disguised under all shapes, and I see they will ever have it in their Power to Practice so many of these arts, and to succeed to such a Degree, that I am convinced no Pains or Expences should be spared to defend ourselves.

But how shall we defend ourselves? We cannot refuse to receive foreign Ministers from Sovereign Powers: Shall we recall, all our own Ministers from Europe? this is a serious Question— I confess I am for the affirmative, and would give my Voice for recalling every one, if I could not secure two Points. The first is to send Men of independent Minds, who will not be Tools, Men of Virtue and Conscience: the second is to perswade Congress to support them firmly. it is infintely better to have none in Europe, than to have Artfull unprincipled Impostors, or Men debauched with Women You may depend upon this, the Moment an American Minister gives a loose to his Passion for Women that Moment, he is undone, he is instantly at the Mercy of the Spies of the Court, and the Tool of the most profligate of the human Race. This will be called Pedantry but it is Sacred Truth, and our Country will feel it to her Sorrow if she is not aware of it in Season. if you make it a Principle that your Ministers should be agreeable, at the Court, and have the good Word of the Courtiers you are undone. No Man will ever be pleasing at a Court in General, who is not debauched in his Morals, or warped from your Interests. if therefore, you can carry Elections for Men of pure Intregrity, and unshaken firmness, it will be for your Interest to have a Number of them at the Principal Courts of 244Europe for some time, two or three years at least. if you cannot, you had better send none. Men of any other Character, will be called amiable, and be said to be beloved, & esteemed and to have your Confidence but they will be made the Instruments of the most insidious and destructive designs upon your Liberties, I mean upon your Morals and Republican Virtues, which are the only Qualities which can Save our Country. for myself I dont care a Farthing. the most agreeable Thing to me would be to come home. But I pray one Thing only for myself, it is that you would determine immediately, whether I may come home or not.

It is the true Interest of our Country, to cultivate the Friendship of the Dutch: We have nothing to fear from them, as we have from the French and English. it is their Policy as well as ours to cultivate Peace and Neutrality, & we may aid each other in it.

With Sincere Affection your Friend

John Adams2

RC in JQA’s hand (MHi:Gerry Papers II); internal address: “Mr: Gerry.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 106.


Clearly JA is linking the American victory over the British in the American Revolution with Oliver Cromwell and his decisive victories in the English Civil War. JA’s recollection of the dates of Cromwell’s death and the Battle of Worcester—3 Sept. 1658 and 3 Sept. 1651—is correct, but the other battle occurring on 3 Sept. was the Battle of Dunbar in 1650. The Battle of Naseby took place on 14 June 1645.


Closing and signature in JA’s hand.