Papers of John Adams, volume 16

To the President of Congress

From Jan Willink

Jonathan Jackson to John Adams, 7 June 1784 Jackson, Jonathan Adams, John
From Jonathan Jackson
Dear Sir London 7th June 1784—

I have to acknowledge the receipt of three Letters from you & to ask pardon for the appearance of Neglect in not doing it before—the several Vessels bound to America have taken up my time in writing, together with the business consequent upon Letters received by several Arrivals from thence—

I have your’s of the 1st May in answer to one by Mr Parker—of the 4th inclosing Colo Pickering’s Letter which I delivered myself to the Person for whom it was directed & she appeared to be much relieved by the reception of it—of the 14th by your Son with whom I have the pleasure of an agreeable Acquaintance & thank you for the occasion of it—1

Mr Adams has assisted me in making several Extracts from Letters I lately received from our mutual friend Higginson they contain such matter in several respects as I thought you ought to be made acquainted with, & such as I did not doubt you would chuse to be, if you have not had it from other quarters— your Son incloses them by Mr Bingham—2 I hope they may reach your hands in safety without any other’s inspection— Mr B—— is not informed of the Contents— they need no Comment from me—indeed just at present my leisure would not permit me to make any.

The Pleasure of seeing & conversing with you would lead me to 229 Holland if my time would permit, but I still Entertain the thoughts of getting home before cold weather— Mr Adams discovered great disappointment in not seeing his mother & Sister by Callahan—& waits impatiently to know the reason— If agreeable I will continue when safe private opportunities offer to give you such Information as I may receive & think that you may wish to have—

I have promised a polish Nobleman who was a fellow passenger with me from America to give him an introductory Letter to you, as he seemed to have a great desire to become acquainted with you— he is sensible & intelligent— since being here I find that he has become much acquainted with the Prince of Wales Mr Fox &c— he left France this time twelvemonth having been a resident as he tells me at Paris & Versailles these six years— he visited Cayenne the Spanish main & twelve or thirteen Islands in the W Indies—then came to Philada— travelled to Crown point & down to N. York—thro Connecticut & Rd Island to Boston & in Decr Embarked with me from Newburyport for Ireland— he brought Letters to me from the French Consul & Mr Breck—to them from Monsr Luzerne & le Ct De Noailles— he is mentioned Hereditary Chamberlain to the King of Poland & Colo of Dragoons— he may be a devotee to France, but he has never discovered it to me— however I trust nobody but whom I know & have known for a long while— I am thus particular that no deceit may be passed upon you tho’ I beleive you are not apt to be incautious— this Gentleman became acquainted in his rapid progress thro’ our Country with many principal persons & the characters of many, & perhaps in the few months he was passing laid up as much information, as some men would in so many years— but I will not detain you from more important matters these traits are sufficient for your Government—

I remain Sir, with much respect & esteem / your Friend & very obedt Servt

Jona— Jackson

PS— I had quite forgot a request lately made to me which I was desired & promised that I would mention to you— it is from Mr Joseph Cazneau of Liverpool in this Kingdom, that if there should be an Appointment from America of a Consul there, he might be nominated. I observed to him that his Application would be more proper to Congress or some one near them, but he seemed to wish that you might know his inclination— he is a native of Boston—has lived at Liverpool twenty odd years I beleive, & is there a reputable 230 merchant—the firm of his House is Cazneau & Marlin— You will Excuse me in being thus troublesome my good Sir, Men in your Stations must frequently meet such Applications I suppose—

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Honble Mr Adams”; docketed by CFA: “Jackson Jona / June 7th 1784.” and “Jackson Jona / June 7th 1784.”


For the letter of 4 May (LbC, APM Reel 107), see Timothy Pickering’s letter of 17 March, note 1, above. The letter of 14 May, presumably a letter of introduction for JQA, has not been found.


The extracts copied by JQA were from Stephen Higginson’s letters to Jackson dated April and 4 May and are at those dates in the Adams Papers. JQA enclosed the extracts with his 1 June letter to JA ( AFC , 5:335), which JA received on 13 June (to Jackson, 15 June, below). It was sent under the care of William Bingham. Both extracts are printed in part in Amer. Hist. Assoc., Ann. Rpt. for 1896, 1:713–719. For the visit by Bingham and his wife to JA at The Hague, see Bingham’s letter of 26 June, and note 1, below.

Higginson was concerned over American relations with Britain and France. In his first letter he noted Britain’s interest in reviving Anglo-American attachments and trade by suspending the Navigation Act and concluding at least an interim commercial agreement. Such action would counter French efforts to foment divisions among the American states and thereby prevent an Anglo-American rapprochement. This added to his concerns over Congress’ slowness in appointing commissioners to negotiate commercial treaties, and one passage on the subject likely explains Jackson’s decision to send the extracts to JA. Higginson wrote that “Mr: Adams, when he is acquainted with the Real situation of things in this Country and knows the difficulties that attend the procurring proper Commissions & Instructions from Congress will not feel any doubt about urging the adjustment of such Convention” with Britain. JA’s endorsement on the extract reads, “Mr Higginson, / April 1784. / The Embarrassments to Commerce / The Confusion of Politicks / [James] Sullivan a fixed Devotee of France. / If the Comn to England was to Franklin / alone, it wd soon be determined and France / do as she pleased.”

Higginson reiterated his concerns over French influence in his letter of 4 May. He was particularly concerned in the wake of the Chevalier de La Luzerne’s decision to return to France. According to Higginson, France had orchestrated “the revocation of Mr: Adams’s [1779] Commission first given, and she prevents our sending any Minister to reside in Britain” and through its supporters “industriously” promoted the view that “it is the Interest of America, to have no connexion with the powers & politics, of Europe, to receive no foreign ministers & to keep none in Europe ourselves.” Such a policy made it impossible to achieve the objective that Higginson thought most important, improved commercial relations with Britain.