Papers of John Adams, volume 17

From Thomas Barclay, 24 November 1785 Barclay, Thomas Adams, John
From Thomas Barclay
Dear Sir Paris 24 Novr.

I wrote you Yesterday advising My Bill on you to M Grand No. 6 for Two Hundred pounds Sterling—1

I shou’d have been before this time on the road to Madrid, but Mr. De Beaumarchais having had his Accounts returned from America with a Reference to me, M. Jefferson thought I ought to give them an Examination so that No reflections hereafter shou’d lye on one of the Servants of the Public, for having declined that business— I have Now made it, and wait only for some Vouchers which I have written to Mr. De Beaumarchais to lay before me If this is done I shall proceed immediately to a Settlement; and if it is not done he will have No person to Blame but himself—2

The affairs with Algiers Claiming an Immediate attention Mr. Lamb and Mr. Randle went from hence fifteen or sixteen days ago, Part of the Extraordinary time which I have spent here has been engaged in procuring the Best Information in my power respecting the Business I am Going on, and the result of those enquiries is that it is Usual to make one Present to the Emperor at the first Audience, and another at taking leave, Exclusive of some necessary to be Distributed among his Family and those who are about his person— I wrote you some time ago that I thought the Value of Twenty thousand livres wou’d be sufficient to begin with, but on Examining the lists of Presents made by other Powers, I Conclude it will be Necessary, at the Very least, to Double that sum, and indeed I beleive to go farther— I have availd my self of the Delay to Chuse with Caution the Necessary Articles and a Great Part of them are 604such as will sell without loss, if a failure shou’d happen to the Negociation— Those that I have purchased are Swords, Pistols, Snuff Boxes, two Very Rich Umbrellas, watches, a Clock, Lawns and Cambricks to the amount of Twenty thousand livres, the things I want are Rings Silk and Cloth for Vests, Velvits, Brocade Satin, some Rich Toys, Gold and Silver lace, Silver watches—together with some Lawns Cambricks and Muslins which I have orderd to be bought at L’orient, of which when the whole is Compleated I shall send you an Account— Having received All my Papers from Mr. Jefferson, some letters of Recommendation from the Marechal de Castries, and an order for My Passports to the Ferme General, I wait only until I Can arrange the account of M. De Beaumarchais, when I shall set out for L’Orient and pass immediately to Spain, through Bordeaux— I Beg you will beleive Me with the greatest Esteem and Respect, / Dear Sir / Your Most obed / Servant—

Thos Barclay

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mr. Adams London—”


In his 23 Nov. letter (Adams Papers) Barclay also mentioned that he would write by WSS in “a day or two.”


Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais’ application to Barclay stemmed from Congress’ 4 June 1784 resolution that no payment of Beaumarchais’ claims could be made until his accounts were settled by Barclay in France ( JCC , 27:566). Barclay delayed his departure for Morocco until mid-Jan. 1786 in the hope that a definitive settlement would be possible (Jefferson, Papers , 9:234). That, however, proved impossible, and Beaumarchais’ claims were not finally resolved until the mid-1830s. For a detailed account of this longstanding dispute, see Morris, Papers , 5:318–321, 326–328.

From Cotton Tufts, 24 November 1785 Tufts, Cotton Adams, John
From Cotton Tufts
Dear Sr. Boston Novr. 24. 1785

I have repeatedly forgot to mention to You That in Sepr. 1783. Dr. Holyoke then President of our Masstts. Medl Society recd. Your Letter dated in June, enclosing Copies of the Votes &C of the Royall Society of Medicine at Paris. In Octobr. following the Medl Society met and voted their Unanimous Thanks to You for Your friendly Attention to the Interests of the Socy. and directed an Answer to be Sent to the Royll Socy of Mede at Paris1

The Letter of Thanks & Answers were committed to Dr. Feron,2 who Sailed in Novr. but the Vessell in which He took Passage, sprung a Leak and Dr. Feron committed them to the Care of a French Gentleman who sailed in Decembr. Since which no Answer has been recd. I wish You to inform me whether You ever recd. any such Letter and also whether You have transmitted the original Votes


Capt. Callihan arrived here Yesterday by him I was favoured with a Letter from Mrs. Adams—3 Your Son Charles dind with us this day and is in good Health— We had Letters from Haverhill Your Children there are also well— Be pleased to present my Affectionate Regards to Your Lady & Daughter— / I am Dear Sr. / Your Affectionate Friend & H Sert

Cotton Tufts—
Nov. 26

The Senate last Eveng. passd a Bill for encouraging the Whale Fishery which I make no doubt will meet with the Concurrence of the House— The Bounties offered on the different Kinds of Oil are £5— £3. & £2— Vessells & Crew to belong to this State— There appears to be a favourable opening for the Sale of Oil in France—

The Duties in our Navigation Act charged upon Tonnage and Light Houses are thought to bear too hard on Foreign Vessells and will probably be reduced on all except British Vessells—4 It seems to be a growing Opinion that our Trade with Great Britain is at present not only unprofitable, but ruinous— Almost All our Cash goes there, and will continue to go there untill our Debts are paid or greatly lessened— We are feeling the Evil of an unbounded Credit— In a few Years—I hope We shall stand on a firmer Basis—and rest on our own Bottoms—

RC (Adams Papers).


For JA’s efforts in 1782 and 1783 to establish a correspondence between the newly formed Massachusetts Medical Society and the Société royale de médecine at Paris, see vol. 14:index. The undertaking was proposed by Tufts in a 26 Sept. 1782 letter ( AFC , 4:386, 388) and was pronounced successful by JA in his 10 June 1783 letter to Edward Augustus Holyoke, president of the society, enclosing with that letter copies of his correspondence with the société and the diploma voted by its members. Holyoke replied on 6 Sept., enclosing a copy of the society’s vote expressing its gratitude for JA’s efforts (vol. 15:24–25, 349–350).

In a letter of 11 March 1786 JA indicated to Tufts that he had not replied to Holyoke’s letter because “the subject did not seem to require any further Attention on my Part” ( AFC , 7:87). JA finally replied to Holyoke on 3 April, enclosing the originals of his correspondence with the société and the original diploma as well as an unidentified journal, and attributing the delay in his response to the “many Removals of my Papers and my Family with various Calls of public Service” (MaSaPEM:Holyoke Family Coll.).


Dr. Jean Baptiste Feron, a French surgeon and honorary member of the Massachusetts Medical Society (vol. 15:349).


Of 5 Oct. 1785 ( AFC , 6:407–408).


On 29 Nov. the Mass. General Court adopted “An Act Repealing in Part an Act, entitled ‘An Act for the Regulation of Navigation, and Commerce’” (Mass., Acts and Laws , 1784–1785, p. 489). The revised law repealed the restriction of foreign vessels to unloading in Boston, Falmouth, and Dartmouth and the levy on them of a tonnage duty and double duties on goods imported therein. It also reduced the “duty of light money” paid by foreign vessels but declared that the provisions of the former act “shall be construed to be in full force against the subjects of the King of Great Britain, and the property of such subjects” (same, p. 439–443).