Papers of John Adams, volume 15

To James Warren, 10 September 1783 Adams, John Warren, James
To James Warren
My dear Friend, Paris Septr. 10. 1783

I received with great Pleasure yours of 24. June. The Approbation of my Countrymen is a great Pleasure and Support to me but that approbation does not extend I fancy so far as you and several others seem to imagine. if it does I am unfit for their Purposes, having neither Health nor Patience, for the arduous and trying Duties of their first Magistrate. an honour too high and a situation too delicate for me.

A Residence in the Massachusetts is the desire of my soul, and the only one where I can enjoy Life. I still hope to pass, my Evening, hastening on a pace in that Country: But Congress have tied me again to Europe by a new Commission so honourable to me, as to have really touched my heart.— Upon a very long Letter of mine they have founded this Commission and have owned it, in their Journals.1 Whoever shall compare the Letter and Commission together, will own that it does me infinite honour, and ought to silence forever every Complaint on my part for what is past. I am now indifferent who goes to England, but still think the public Good requires that some one should go.

We shall do our Utmost Endeavour to Secure to Mass. & N. Hampshire a Way to Market for their ships through the West India Islands. But N. Hampshire and Rhode Island too, should support in Congress, those Men to whom if to any body they must be indebted, for this Benefit, and not Sacrifice them to the Vanity of another, who will take little Pains about it, who is afraid to think in the day, 280for fear he should not sleep at night. whose whole Time and thoughts S[eem] to be taken up, with little clandestime Projects to gratify his private Vanity and Secure to himself, and his Name exclusive Reputation, at the Expence even of others who do real Business for the Benefit of the public and who think and act wholly for its good.

our Navigation will be materially affected, by our Treaties with Denmark and Portugal, which Dr Franklin has been secretly contriving to get the exclusive Management of, as he did that of sweeden. N.H. & R. Island shd be upon their Guard, and join others in this Business who think a little about it.—

Mr Dana will soon be with you— He can give you very entertaining and instructive Histories not of Voyages and Travels alone, but of Negotiations. His defeat, comes from the same source, very secret and cunning, but very malicious to every Man and every Project, calculated for the public Good. one Man seems to have a positive Spight against every public service, that he does not exclusively perform himself.—2 He opposes it and persecutes the Agent in it with a Malice and Rancour that is astonishing. I could have formed no Idea, that Jealousy Envy and Vanity could have gone such Lengths.

I think our Country should form Treaties with the two Empires, as well as Denmark and Portugal. to these should be added, Morocco, Algiers, Tunis & Tripoli—perhaps too the Kings of Sardinia, and Naples. one Commission, may be enough for all these Purposes, in order to save Expence. But this Commission ought not to be given to one alone at Paris when three are obliged to reside there on another Negotiation. We should be all joined in it, and When We have compleated the Business We may all go home.

My best Respects and kindest Regards to your Family. My Friend Mr Otis, Seems to have been permitted to see the Building finished which he framed, and then taken away in a manner equally happy and distinguished.— He was a favourite of Nature in his Genius and in his Death.— The History of our Country I hope will do Justice to this great Character.

With great Esteem, your Frd & sert

J. Adams

RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); internal address: “General Warren.”; endorsed: “Mr J. Adams / Lettr Sepr 10. 83.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 107. Text lost due to a torn manuscript has been supplied from the LbC.


See JA’s letters to the president of Congress of 5 Feb., and note 1, vol. 14:238–245, and of 8 Sept. (first), and note 2, above.


Both JA and Francis Dana suspected 281that Benjamin Franklin had connived with the Comte de Vergennes to shift responsibility for the negotiation of a Russo-American commercial treaty from Dana at St. Petersburg to Franklin at Paris. See JA’s letter to Dana of 24 March, vol. 14:358–359, and Dana’s letter to JA of [1 June], above.

To Mercy Otis Warren, 10 September 1783 Adams, John Warren, Mercy Otis
To Mercy Otis Warren
Madam Paris Septr. 10. 1783

It is but a very few days, Since I received your Letter of the 4. of May, which affored me, as your Letters always do, a delicious Entertainment.1 Your friendly Congratulations, on the Success of my feeble Efforts, are very agreable to me, and very obliging.

You Say that I shall never retire, till weary Nature diminishes my Capacity of acting in dignified difficulty.— Give me leave to say, that the Period is already arrived. Nature is weary, the Capacity is diminished but what is more agreable to Think of, the dignified difficulties are all at an End.— I always had a Knack at a Difficulty. My Country Clients used to tell me, Mr Adams is excellent at a difficult Case. and having a reputation for this I was always vexed with them.— Few of the Race of Adam have had more difficulties fall to his share.— But I consider them as all at an End in a manner.

Probity, Madam would be not only the Surest, but the only Road to honour if Mankind were not deceived. But there are so many Ways of cheating and imposing upon the most enlightened People, that it is almost impossible to keep Steady their Approbation of the Just, their Contempt of the Vile, or their Abhorrence of the Wicked.

I believe I have never failed to Answer a Letter from Marcia, if I have I was very much to blame, and very inattentive to my own Interest, for I prize very highly her Letters, both for the Pleasure and Instruction I derive from them

I have absolutely got above all Fatigue from Pomp and Parade. it has no Effect upon me. one may be familiarized to any Thing. My house Stands in a very publick Place at the Confluence of Several, much frequented streets. there are generally half a dozen Chariots at a Time, rolling by upon the Pavements, for at least one and twenty hours out of the four & twenty making an incessant Roar, like the Falls of Niagara.— Yet I dont hear it.— I write, read, &c as if all were still.—2 The imposing Glare of a Court, at present has as little Effect on me. I am as insensible to it, as an I[ndi]an would be.

I have indeed, Madame been horribly neglected in the Article of Intelligence. I have endeavoured to correspond with Members of Congress but before my Letters could reach them they had retired.— 282I have been Shamefully uninformed of what has passed at Philadelphia & Boston. But I hope for better Times.

It was with very Affecting sentiments that I learned, the Death of Mr Otis my worthy Master. Extraordinary in Death as in Life, he has left a Character, which will never die, while the Memory of the American Revolution remains, whose Foundations he laid, with an Ennergy, and with those Masterly Abilities which no other Man possessed.

With very great Respect and Esteem I have the / honour to be, Madam your sincere Friend and / very humble servant

John Adams

RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); internal address: “Mrs Warren.”; endorsed: “Mr Adams—” and “Hon: Jno Adams / Sepr 10th 1783.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 107. Text lost due to a torn manuscript has been supplied from the LbC.


Vol. 14:466–468.


JA wrote of the traffic noise outside his lodgings at the Hôtel du Roi in the Boston Patriot of 29 April 1812, recalling that “the grand hotel du Roi, place du Carrousel, where I had apartments, was situated at the confluence of so many streets, that it was a kind of thoroughfare. A constant stream of carriages was rolling by it over the pavements for one and twenty hours out of the twenty-four. From two o’clock to five in the morning there was something like stillness and silence, but all the other one and twenty hours was a constant roar, like incessant rolls of thunder. When I was in my best health I sometimes thought it would kill me.” For more on the din in the Place du Carrousel and its effect on JA, see his letter to the president of Congress, 14 Sept. 1783, note 1, below.