Papers of John Adams, volume 17

The Marquis de Lafayette to the American Commissioners

From Francis Dana

From Thomas Cushing, 9 April 1785 Cushing, Thomas Adams, John
From Thomas Cushing
Dear Sir, Boston April 9th: 1785

I am obliged to you for your favor of the 25th. Octr. last & for the intelligence it contained relative to the line between this State & Nova Scotia.1 I have lately at the request of the General Court forwarded to our Delegates at Congress the report of the Agents that were sent last fall to the Eastern parts of this State to make enquiry whether any encroachments had been made upon this State by the British; & also a number of other Papers relative to the boundary Line above referr’d to, I suppose you will soon hear from Congress upon this subject—2 I congratulate you upon your being appointed a Minister at the Court of Great Britain & hope the appointment will be agreeable to you, I sincerely wish you success in all your negociations & hope you will be able to do essential service to the United States by making a treaty of Commerce with that Nation that may be mutually beneficial. Our People begin to be very restless & uneasy under the restrictions & embarrassments our Trade labors under at the English Ports & will not any longer rest satisfied unless this Government or Congress retaliate—

Colo. Norton, who will deliver you this Letter, is employed as an Agent from the County of Dukes County to apply to the British Government for Compensation for the Stock taken from the Inhabitants of said County in the year 1778, he has had the permission of this Commonwealth for this purpose several times during the War—3


If your Excellency can render him any service, it will be to the advantage of the Commonwealth at large, as the money that may be obtained for these People will be principally, if not wholly, applied to the payment of their Taxes for which they now stand indebted—

With great Respect & Esteem, / I have the honor to be, / Dear Sir, / Your most Obedt. hble Servt.

Thomas Cushing

RC (Adams Papers); internal addresses: “His Excellency John Adams Esqr:” and “His Excellency John Adams Esqr.”


Vol. 16:347–348.


On 7 July 1784 the Mass. General Court appointed Benjamin Lincoln, Henry Knox, and George Partridge commissioners to investigate British incursions along the Massachusetts– Nova Scotia border. Lincoln and Knox presented the commission’s report on 20 Oct., but not until 17 March 1785, and then at Rufus King’s behest, did the General Court resolve to send the report and supporting documents to the commonwealth’s congressional delegation in New York in order to elicit from Congress such instructions “to their Minister at the Court of London, as shall be thought most effectual to prevent any further disputes concerning the said eastern boundary, and cause the encroachments aforesaid to be removed” (vol. 16:300, 301; Smith, Letters of Delegates , 22:218; Mass., Acts and Laws , 1784–1785, p. 265, 397–398). The documents submitted by Massachusetts in March and others sent in September resulted in reports by John Jay of 21 April and 22 Sept. and, on 13 Oct., a congressional resolution that JA be instructed to make representations to the British government on the subject ( JCC , 28:287–290; 29:753–754, 828–829). For additional information on JA’s instructions, his representations to the British government, and the documents sent him to support his case, see Jay’s second letter of 1 Nov., and notes 1 and 2, below.


Beriah Norton, colonel in the militia and Dukes County senator, first went to England as AA’s fellow passenger on the Active in 1784. He was returning in the spring of 1785 to renew his campaign to obtain redress for losses suffered by the inhabitants of Martha’s Vineyard in a 1778 British raid ( AFC , 5:359–360, 383; 7:9, 11). Norton also carried William Gordon’s letter of 8 April 1785, above, Francis Dana’s of the 10th, below, and Cotton Tufts’ to AA of the 11th ( AFC , 6:81–82).