Papers of John Adams, volume 18

From Rufus King

From Rufus King

To John Adams from Paul R. Randall, 4 May 1786 Randall, Paul R. Adams, John
From Paul R. Randall
Madrid May 4th: 1786.

I should have addressed your Excellency long e’er this, since my Arrival from Algiers1—but being in Expectation of bringing on Mr: Lamb’s Letters—was entirely without Suspicion of the many Impediments which retarded my Progress thus far. Mr Lamb must undoubtedly have given your Excellencies the Reasons of sending me from thence—and however repugnant to my Inclinations, I must be necessitated to submit to his express Desire—as he might otherwise have left it in a spanish Brigantine—and have given me the Charge of his Vessel to convey me to Marseilles. I therefore prefered the Alternative of attending the Count D’Expilly’s Secretary in Hopes of obtaining a Release from Quarantine with himself—but by an 281 unfortunate Concurrence of Circumstances I was detained twenty two Days—and obliged to go from Alicant where the Vessel was arrived— to Carthagena whither she was sent to perform her Quarantine.—2 I endeavored to reach Madrid with all possible Dispatch after my Discharge.— Here I find that Mr Lamb is returned to Alicant with Intention of coming to Madrid immediately:— The Information therefore that I might have conveyed of the Situation of Affairs upon my leaving Algiers must be rendered of very little Consequence by the Lapse of Time—and such Change as has made his Withdrawal necessary—which most unquestionably your Excellencies must be advised of.

In this I am allowed to judge—as Mr Lamb had given me no Instructions of what Information I should be the Bearer of on his Part—

I think myself bound—and by the Opinion of Mr Carmichael am determined to await the Arrival of Mr Lamb & be governed by future Instructions & Circumstances.

What Observations I have been enabled to make in my shor Stay there shall be transmitted to your Excellencies by the first safe Occasion being in Hopes a Courier will set out shortly which must arrive before I can travel to London—altho’ I have disencumbered myself from my Baggage. Mr Carmichael was acquainted as soon as I could possibly write with every Thing I could be possessed of respecting Algiers—however I sh[all be] as particular as my Memory will serve—

In this and on all other Occasions I am entirely devoted to the Service of my Country—and am most particularly / Your Excellency’s / Obt hum sert.

P R Randall

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “His Excellency / John Adams. Esquire / Minister plenipotentiary from / the United-states of America at the / Court of Great-Britain.— / London.—”; endorsed: “Mr Randall / Madrid 4. May.”; docketed by WSS: “Copy sent to Congress / May 24th. 86—” Text lost where the seal was removed has been supplied from the copy sent by WSS. WSS’s date of 24 May is likely an inadvertence because the letter was enclosed with his letter to John Jay of the 29th ( Dipl. Corr., 1783–1789 , 3:25–26; PCC, No. 92, f. 63, 67–68).


Randall’s last letter to JA was from Barcelona, dated 25 Feb., above. He and John Lamb reached Algiers on 25 March, and shortly thereafter Randall sailed for Spain, presumably carrying Lamb’s 29 March letter to Thomas Jefferson (Jefferson, Papers , 9:364–365, 549). There Lamb indicated that the amount of money needed to ransom the American prisoners exceeded the funds available to him and advised that the Algerian negotiations be abandoned “as it will be intirely in vane to parsivear.” For further information on the arrival of Randall and Lamb in Algiers, Randall’s departure for Spain, and Lamb’s negotiations with the dey of Algiers subsequent to Randall’s departure, see the 282 letters to the commissioners from Randall and Lamb of 14 and 20 May, respectively, both below.


The length of Randall’s quarantine upon his arrival in Spain was owing to the outbreak of the bubonic plague in Algiers, for which see Lamb’s 20 May letter to the commissioners, below.