Papers of John Adams, volume 18

From Thomas Jefferson

To Thomas Jefferson

From John Adams to John Jay, 15 July 1786 Adams, John Jay, John
To John Jay
Sir London July 15. 1786

On Wednesday, the 13. the Marquis of Carmarthen, informed me, that, Captain of the Mercury Man of War, to use his Lordships own Words “had received a Severe Rap, over the Knuckles, from the Lords of the Admiralty, for his Conduct at Boston.” His Lordship had “received a Letter from Lord How, accompanied with a long dull Letter, from Captain Stanhope which instead of being a justification of his Conduct was rather an Aggravation of it.”— His Lordship then called in his Under Secretary of State, Mr Fraser, and ordered the Letter from the Admiralty to be brought to him, which he read to me.— [It] inform’d him, that the Lords of the Admiralty, had called upon Captain Stanhope, for his justification of his Conduct to Governor Bowdoin and had received from him the Letter, inclosed for the Information of his Majesty, which their Lordships however thought no Apology. That their Lordships had accordingly, Signified to Captain Stanhope their Sensible Displeasure at his Conduct; and as the Mercury had been ordered home from the American Station, their Lordships would take Special Care, that he Should be no longer continued in that Service.1

The Secretary of State, was pleased to Say farther that he would Speak to Lord Sidney, concerning the Affair of the Eastern Line, that Sir Guy Carleton might have Instructions concerning it before he went out.

His Lordship was asked if any Appointment had been made of a Minister Plenipotentiary to the United States, and Answered “Not Yet.”

With great Respect I have the Honour / to be, sir your most obedient / and most humble servant

John Adams.

RC (PCC, No. 84, VI, f. 339–342); internal address: “His Excellency John Jay / Secretary of State, for / the Department of foreign / Affairs.”; endorsed: “Letter 15 393 July 1786 / Mr Adams / Read 19 Septr. 1786 / Referred to Secy for foreign / Affairs to Communicate / to the Executive of Massachusetts / So much as relates to Capt Stan- / hope and the eastern boundary.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 112. Text lost due to an ink blot has been supplied from the LbC.


For the Stanhope Affair, involving Capt. Henry Edwin Stanhope of the British frigate Mercury, see JA’s 9 Dec. 1785 letter to Jay, and note 1, above. News of Stanhope’s recall spread rapidly, for on 3 Aug. 1786 the Boston Independent Chronicle reported that “Mr. Stanhope, the commander, having been recalled, it is said, to answer for his ungracious and indelicate addresses to Governour Bowdoin, on which since his return to that very FERTILE and POLITE province, he and his petit maitre officers have constantly plumed themselves. Mr. Stanhope, sensible of his being in a situation where correction could not be dispensed … has frequently embellished and enriched his vociferations in Roubalet’s Coffee-Room, in Halifax, with the very LIBERAL & POLITE terms, ‘damn the Americans—their Country—and the Congress.’”