Papers of John Adams, volume 17

To John Jay

To Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson

From Thomas Jefferson, 2 June 1785 Jefferson, Thomas Adams, John
From Thomas Jefferson
Dear Sir Paris June 2. 1785.

Your favours of May 23. and the two of May 27. came safely to hand, the first being open. that of the 22d. from Montreuil sur mer had been received and answered on the 25th.

The day before the receipt of the letters of the 27th. we had had your cases brought to the barrier of Paris in order to get the proper officer to go that far to plumb them.1 From there they were put on board the boat for Rouen & their portage paid. in the instant of receiving your letter I sent Petit off to try to stop them if not gone. the 146boat was just departing and they declared it impossible to reland them: and that could it be done, a new passport from the C. de Vergennes would be necessary for the part not landed. I now forward your letter to mr̃ Garvey, countermanding your order of the wine from him, and praying him to retain all the cases of wine now sent except that which has the Madeira & Frontignac, till he shall receive your orders.2 these therefore you will be so good as to send him as soon as convenient. I was very sorry we could not stop the wine. it would have suited me perfectly to have taken it either at the prices it cost you if known to Petit, or if not known, then at such prices as he & Marc should have estimated it at: & this would have saved you trouble, I inclose you Petit’s note of disbursements which I immediately repaid him.3 you will know the exchange between London & Paris, which is considerably in favor of the former. make the allowance for that & either retain the money in your own hands or put it into Stockdale’s as most convenient. can you take the trouble of ordering me the two best of the London papers (that is to say one of each party) and by any channel which will save me postage & the search of government?

The inclosed letter to Miss Adams is from a young gentleman of her acquaintance who has a very sincere and high affection for her.4 When you transferred to her the commission of Secretary, I well hoped the pleasure of her being the intermediate of our communications: but I did not flatter myself with the further one of becoming the confident between herself & persons of the foregoing description.5 the following paragraphs are for her eye only. be so good therefore here as to deliver over the letter to her. the cypher I suppose to be in her custody.6

{By a dutch Courier which went yesterday we sent an answer to Baron Thulemyer. It contained what we had agreed on when you were here.} that is to say, {we closed and expressing our doubts that it might not suit him to come here,}7 {we propose that every one should sign separately puting the date and place} of {his Signature. We mean to sign here, send it by some confidential Person} to {you & that he shall carry it on to the Baron deliver it to him} and receive in {exchange the copy signd by him.}

{Our answer} to {Tuscany} is {copying.} it is {precisly what we had agreed when you were with us.}8

Be so good as to present my highest esteem to the ladies & to be / assured of the sincerity with which I am Dear Sir / Your friend & servt.

Th: Jefferson 147

P.S. {My visits have been all returned save by the Portuguese [ambassador] who I imagine has [neglect]ed [others ?].}

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr Jefferson June 2. / ansd July. 16. 1785”; notation by CFA: “not published.” CFA presumably means that the letter was not published in Jefferson, Correspondence, ed. Randolph. See, for example, the descriptive note to Jefferson’s 22 June letter, below. Encoded text has been supplied from this letter as printed in Jefferson, Papers , 8:172–174, and from an undated decoding by AA2 [ca. 16 July 1785] (Adams Papers) and from a decoding by AA2 (Adams Papers, filmed at 23 Oct. 1786) . The editors believe that the decoded text appended to Jefferson’s letter was likely in the hand of CFA who, in the nineteenth century, possessed a key to the code that has now been lost, as evidenced by his decoding of several letters from Jefferson to JA, for which see those of 31 July, 17 Aug., and 19 Sept., all below.


That is, to affix lead seals to JA’s cases ( OED ).


That is, upon receiving JA’s first letter of 27 May, above, Jefferson sought to remove the wine being sent to JA with his other possessions on the boat to Rouen. JA’s letter to the wine merchant Anthony Garvey, presumably also dated 27 May, has not been found, but Jefferson accurately summarizes its content (Jefferson, Papers , 8:175). For the resolution of the issue concerning the importation of wine, see JA’s 16 July letter to Jefferson, and note 1, below.


Adrian Petit’s “note” has not been found, but see JA’s 16 July reply to Jefferson, below. On 2 June Jefferson repaid Petit ₶173.8 for “portage &c. of Mr. Adams’s things” ( Jefferson’s Memorandum Books , 1:586).


This is JQA’s 17 May letter to AA2, written at Lorient, which he addressed “under cover to Mr. Jefferson, in case it should arrive after your departure” ( AFC , 6:148–151, 155).


For AA2’s service as JA’s secretary following JQA’s departure, see Introduction, Part 4, above.


This letter marks the first use of Jefferson’s “Code No. 8,” a fairly conventional, 1,700-element nomenclator code that he created to encode sensitive correspondence with JA on the state of European politics, U.S. diplomacy, and dealings with the Barbary States. It is similar in design to the code that John Jay sent to JA, for which see JA’s letters to Jay of 2 June, above, and 10 June, below, and the Descriptive List of Illustrations, Nos. 4 and 5, above; as well as Weber, Codes and Ciphers , p. 84, 93. Jefferson drafted his letter and then wrote out the passage to encode with parenthetical marks. Then, either he or his secretary, William Short, using a code sheet containing the words followed by their numbers, encoded the passage. JA, upon receiving the letter, used the sheet containing the numbers followed by their words to decode the passage.

At some point in April or May, Jefferson gave or sent the key to the code to JA. This is likely the same document that CFA relied on to decode the letters for publication in the nineteenth century, but it has not been found. It should be noted that Jefferson’s key was imperfect, for he wrote to JA on 31 July, below, to identify the words for which he had numbers, but not equivalents. In the absence of the actual code key, the editors have used Jefferson’s press copies and JA’s LbC’s, as well as a partially reconstructed version of Code No. 8 based on Jefferson’s reuse of the same elements in later codes he designed for other correspondents (Jefferson, Papers , 8:173–174; Code No. 8 partial key, communication from James P. McClure, 20 April 2012).


Signed by Benjamin Franklin and Jefferson, this letter was of 26 May (Jefferson, Papers , 8:165–166).


To Francesco Favi, this letter was signed by Franklin and Jefferson and dated 8 June (same, p. 187–195).