Papers of John Adams, volume 16

From Thomas Barclay

From William Bingham

Marquis de Lafayette to John Adams, 25 June 1784 Lafayette, Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Adams, John
From the Marquis de Lafayette
My dear Sir L’Orient June the 25th 1784

At the Very instant of Sailing for America, I stop to Send You the New Modelled Regulations of the Cincinnati—1 My principles Ever Have Been Against Heredity, and While I was in Europe disputing about it with a few friends, My letters to the Assembly, and still more Particularly to the president, Made them Sensible of My Opinion Upon that Matter— Untill Heredity Was Given Up, I forbeared Mentionning in Europe What Sense I Had Expressed— But Mr̃ Jay Being in Paris, I once Explained My conduct to Him, and He Appeared Very Well satisfied— The Valüe I Have for Your Esteem is the Reason Why I Mention those particulars—and so far as Respects me, it is for You that I write this Minuted Account.

Mr̃ Jay is Named a Minister for foreign Affairs—Mr̃s John Adams, Franklin, and Jefferson are Appointed a Committee to Make Treaties with European Powers

With Every Sentiment of an Affectionate Regard I Have / the Honour to Be / dear Sir / Your obedient Humble Servant


Whatever Has Been thought Offensive, You see the Cincinnati Have Given it Up— Now the New frame Must Be Examined— in Every Circumstance, My dear Sir, depend upon it You Will find me, what Ever I Have Been, and perhaps With some Eclat—i.e.—a Warm friend to the Army—a still Warmer Advocate for the Cause of Liberty— But those two things, When the army is put to the proof—You Will ever aknowledge to Agree with each other.

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Marquis De La / Fayette / June 25. 1784.”


Lafayette sailed for the United States on 28 June. For Lafayette’s willingness to remove the provision making membership in the Society of the Cincinnati hereditary, see his 8 March letter, note 4, above. The “New Modelled Regulations” that he sent to JA have not been found, but they proceeded from the deliberations of the “Grand Convention” held at Philadelphia in May. There, at the behest of George Washington and against considerable opposition, all mention of heredity was removed from the society’s “Institution,” or bylaws. Lafayette may have seen the circular letter to the various state branches that laid out the changes. Most of the revisions were rejected, however, and the society remained hereditary (Lafayette, Papers , 5:xliii; Myers, Liberty without Anarchy , p. 58–66, 70–80).