Papers of John Adams, volume 16

John Adams to Cotton Tufts, 15 December 1784 Adams, John Tufts, Cotton
To Cotton Tufts
My dear Friend Auteuil Decr 15. 17841

What would be the Consequence if We should have an immediate War with Great Britain? dont be allarmed there is no danger of it. but it is usefull to Speculate.


Would not our Produce be all fetched away to Europe in Dutch French, Portuguese, Italian Sweedish Vessells &c— and would not our Privateers made great Havack among British Commerce?

They might pour into Nova Scotia and Canada Troops, which would oblige Us to maintain Land Armies. Ay! There is the Rub.— and this Consideration ought to make Us do all in our Power, to avoid such a War. But I dont See that they could distress Us or hurt Us very much.—

Their Stocks are at 54 or 55, as low as at any Time in the War, and they must soon borrow more Millions.— They will Soon tax the Stock holders, I fancy one or two Per Cent, per Annum.

The Duke of Dorsett, has communicated to Us a formal Proposition from his Court that Congress should send a Minister to London.— This is so polite and so condescending, according to the Notions of Courts and Nations that I suppose Congress will at length come into it. who will they send? Mr Laurens, Mr Izzard, Mr Lee, Mr Bingham or Dr Franklin, or Billy, or Paul Jones or Mr Charmichael or Dr Bancroft? All very respectable Men.— but not equally so.—

Whoever they send, much good may do him. especially, if they give him Nine thousand dollars a Year.— it is a great deal of Money to be sure, in Weymouth and Braintree, but it is a Sprat in a Whales Belly at a Court, especially at st James’s.—

The Duke of Dorsett and Mr Hales are very complaisant.— The Duke really Seems a plain, open honest Man—without a Spice of Reserve or ill Will.— And he Seems to have Sense enough. Some People have Spoken Slightly of him. others have hinted that his Life has been free. but I confess to you I like him very much better than any body, Since Fitzherbert, Oswald and Whiteford, not one of whom will I ever forget.

Now for private affairs.

I wish you would draw upon me, in Holland England or France, which you please, for my Boys Expences of every sort. for I think the Public ought to maintain my Family, and the little you may receive for Rent in Boston, Mistick or Braintree you will please to reserve for Such Purposes as you think most for my benefit. Remittances are in such demand that, I Suppose you may sell Bills to my Advantage.

My Love and Duty to Mrs Tufts, and your son, to Unkle Quincy, Mr Wibert and &c

Yours affectionately

John Adams

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Hon. Cotton Tufts Esq.”; endorsed: “Hon. John Adams / recd— April 13. 1785.”


No reply to this letter has been found, but Tufts acknowledged its arrival in his 19 April 1785 letter to AA ( AFC , 6:86).

The American Commissioners to the President of Congress, 15 December 1784 American Commissioners Adams, John Franklin, Benjamin Jefferson, Thomas President of Congress
The American Commissioners to the President of Congress
Sir Paris Decr. 15. 17841

In our letter of Novr 11th. we had the honour of laying before Congress a state of our proceedings till that date. As from that it would appear that the last communications had in every instance passed from us to the other parties we can now only add the answers of such of them as have yet answered, & our replies; these are the courts of Portugal, Tuscany & Great Britain. No. 1. is a copy of the communication from the Ambassador of Portugal to us; No. 2. a copy of our reply; No 3 a copy of the draught of a treaty which we enclosed to him.2 No. 4. is a copy of a letter to us from the chargé des Affaires of Tuscany & No. 5. our answer, which enclosed a copy of the same draught of a treaty only changing the style of the other party.3 We must observe that the draught of a treaty which had accompanied our letter to Baron Thulemeier, the Prussian Minister at the Hague, which letter was enclosed in our last to Congress but without the plan of the treaty, was verbatim the same with those to Portugal & Tuscany with only a like change in the style of the other party. No. 6 is a copy of a letter to us from the British Ambassador here; & No. 7. of our reply.4

We received information from the public papers that an American vessel which had just sailed from Cadiz was captured on the 11th. of Octr. by a frigate of the Emperor of Morocco being one of five which he had cruizing in the ocean, and that she was carried into Tangiers on the 16th of October. This intelligence is confirmed in a letter from Mr Carmichael, who adds that the vessel captured belonged to the State of Virginia. We think it our duty to mention this event to your Excellency as it will shew the necessity that immediate measures be taken with the piratical states for the preservation of our trade to the Mediterranean, to Spain & to Portugal, and perhaps to countries still more distant as their vessels may extend their cruizing grounds.


With the most perfect consideration & respect we have the honour to be / Your Excellencys / Most obedient & / Most hble Servants

John Adams B. Franklin T. Jefferson.

FC in David Humphreys’ hand (PCC, No. 116, f. 138–140); internal address: “His Excellency / The President of Congress / at the seat of / Congress.”; notation: “2nd. Report to Congress.”


Congress received the RC of this letter and its enclosures on 28 Feb. 1785, but they are not in the PCC (PCC, No. 185, III, f. 114).


For the first enclosure, an extract from the Portuguese prime minister’s 24 Oct. 1784 letter to his ambassador at Versailles, the Conde de Sousa Coutinho, see Benjamin Franklin’s 15 Nov. letter, and note 1, above. For enclosures 2 and 3, see the commissioners’ 30 Nov. letter to Sousa Coutinho, above.


These are Francesco Favi’s 16 Nov. letter and the commissioners’ reply of 9 Dec., both above.


These are the Duke of Dorset’s 24 Nov. letter and the commissioners’ reply of 9 Dec., both above.