Papers of John Adams, volume 18


To Thomas Jefferson

To John Adams from Thomas Jefferson, 23 June 1786 Jefferson, Thomas Adams, John
From Thomas Jefferson
Dear Sir Paris June 23. 1786.

I hear of a conveyance which allows me but a moment to write to you. I inclose a copy of a letter from mr̃ Lamb.1 I have written both to him & mr̃ Randall agreeable to what we had jointly thought best.2 the Courier de l’Europe gives us strange news of armies marching from the U.S. to take the posts from the English.3 I have received no public letters & not above one or two private ones from America since I had the pleasure of seeing you, so I am in the dark as to all these matters. I have only time left to address heaven with my good wishes for mr̃s Adams & miss Adams, & to assure you of the sincere esteem with which I have the honour to be Dear Sir / Your most obedt. / & most humble sert

Th: Jefferson

RC and enclosure (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mr. Adams.”; endorsed: “Mr Jefferson 23. June / ansd. 3. July. 1786”; docketed by JQA: “T. Jefferson 23. June 1786.” For the enclosure, dated 6 June and filmed at that date, see note 1.


The enclosed copy, in William Short’s hand, is of John Lamb’s letter to Jefferson dated 6 June at Aranjuez, Spain. The enclosure’s date is presumably an inadvertence, for the letter is dated 5 June in Jefferson, Papers , 9:610. For a second copy of this letter, not found, that Jefferson may have sent to JA, see Jefferson’s 9 July letter, below. In his letter, Lamb indicated that he was going to Alicante to await further instructions but that Paul R. Randall had left Madrid for Paris on 3 June.


The letters to Lamb and Randall are both dated 20 June (same, 9:667–668). Jefferson directed Lamb to immediately sail for New York and there report to Congress on the Algerian negotiations. Randall was instructed to set out for Paris and London to report to the commissioners. The instructions to Randall are confusing because Lamb indicated in his letter to Jefferson that Randall left Madrid for Paris on 3 June. Jefferson likely assumed that since Randall had not reached Paris by 20 June, he was still at Madrid, but see the commissioners’ letters to Randall and Lamb at [7 July], below.


The article in the Courier de l’Europe has not been found, but the inaccurate account also appeared in other London newspapers, including the London Chronicle of 10–13 June, which reported that “the Americans, being discontented, and stating as a ground of complaint, that some of the stipulations of the late treaty of peace, in regard to the cession of certain lands adjoining the lakes, had not been faithfully made by us, had taken up arms, and marched a body of troops, amounting to upwards of 7000 men, against the British out-posts of Canada.” The expedition reportedly was not the work of Congress, but rather of the state governments.