Papers of John Adams, volume 16

Edmund Jenings to John Adams, 23 June 1784 Jenings, Edmund Adams, John
From Edmund Jenings
Sir London June 23d. 1784.1

There are several Arrivals from America one of which has, I am told, brought a Packet addressed to your Excellency & to Dr Franklin. I have received some Letters which contain Nothing worth your Excellencys Knowledge—but the inclosed Paper, which I take the Liberty of sending, least it should be omitted by your Correspondants. you will Know, by the writing, from whom it came, it was sent me under an injunction not to suffer it to be printed, or shewed to any but very sure persons, because it is yet an Unfinished Statement & may undergo considerable Alterations2

I am with the greatest Consideration / Sir / your Excellencys / Most Obedient humble Servant

Edm: Jenings

RC and enclosure (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency John Adams Esqr.

247 1.

This is the final extant letter from Jenings to JA. It marked the end of a correspondence that began with Jenings’ letter of 10 March 1779 and comprised more than two hundred letters over the next five years (vol. 8:7–10). There is no indication as to why the correspondence suddenly ceased, but it may have stemmed in part from JA’s reluctance to be involved in the increasingly public dispute between Jenings and Henry Laurens.


The enclosure was a broadside of the report of the “GRAND COMMITTEE … appointed to prepare and report to Congress, the arrears of interest on the national debt, together with the interest and expences for the year 1784” (Evans, No. 18837; JCC , 26:186–196). Drafted by Thomas Jefferson, it was presented to Congress on 5 April and, after being debated and revised, was adopted on 28 April ( JCC , 26:185, 313). For the report as drafted by Jefferson, and an account of the revisions made during the debates, see Jefferson, Papers , 7:65–80. Jenings apparently received the broadside from Arthur Lee, his second cousin, with whom he had corresponded in the past (vol. 8:11). On the broadside, in Lee’s hand, are revisions made in the course of the debates that included, at the bottom of the first page, the “Estimate of the nation1. Debt reported by the Super Intendt. of F for 1784.” The figures were taken from the “Estimate of the Public Debt” and the “Estimate of Arrearages of Interest on the Public Debt” prepared by the register of the treasury, Joseph Nourse, and included in an 18 Oct. 1783 letter from Nourse to Robert Morris. Nourse’s letter and his estimates were submitted to Congress by Morris on 21 Oct. (Morris, Papers , 8:629–633). It is unclear why Lee had reservations about revealing its contents because, with the indicated revisions, it was not substantially different from the version approved by Congress, which was itself published in broadside form (Evans, Nos. 44605, 44606). JA does not refer to the document in any of his extant letters.