Adams Family Correspondence, volume 3

James Lovell to Abigail Adams

John Adams to Abigail Adams

Enclosure: Reports on John Adams’ Accounts, 25 October 1779; 27 October 1779; 14 May 1780 Govett, William Lovell, James Mercier, John D. Continental Congress Forbes, James Mathews, John Houston, William Churchill




Enclosure: Reports on John Adams’ Accounts, 25 October 1779; 27 October 1779; 14 May 1780 Govett, William Lovell, James Mercier, John D. Continental Congress Forbes, James Mathews, John Houston, William Churchill
Enclosure: Reports on John Adams' Accounts

Mr. Adams' Letter of Aug. 3d. was referred to the Board of Treasury on the 20th. to take Order.1

Chamber of Accounts, Octr. 25th. 1779 read Octr. 272

The Commissioners report

That agreable to an Order of the honble. Board of Treasury of the 12th Instant, they have examined the Accounts of the honble. John 344 image Adams Esqr. one of the Commissioners of the United States at the Court of Versailles for his Expences to, at and from thence, and find that He has received from the following Persons, the Sum of forty eight thousand nine hundred and fifty five Livres four Sols Vizt.

Of the honble. Navy Board, Boston 2400 0 0
The honble. Benjn. Franklin Esqr. 10610 16 0
Wm. T. Franklin 480 0 0
John Bonfield 2292 12 0
Mr. Grand sundry Drafts and payments 32159 16 0
Mr. Puchelberg 1012 0 0
48955 4 0
And that there is an Error in his Account of Expences at and from Bordeaux to Paris for which he is to be charged 53 11 0
The whole Amounting to forty nine thousand and eight Livres fifteen Sols 49008 15 0

That he charges for Expenditures for which there are many Vouchers wanting, and which, from Circumstances, they think could not easily be obtained, the following Sums vizt.

Joint Expences with the Honble. Benjamin Franklin 15261 4 6
Expences paid for B. Franklin as per Account A 1981 3 0
His Secretary and Servants Wages, travelling and other Expences 7742 3 6
Cash paid for Cloathing for himself 5248 15 6
Do. Books for Do. 1955 9 0
Do. Schooling his Son 1861 1 0
Money borrowed and repaid 45 12 0
Money lost which was sewed in the lining of a Coat which was stolen3 192 0 0
Expences at Boston on public Business, and Postage since his Return 48 0 0
34335 8 6
And he also charges for his Allowance for Twenty Months at 11428 Livres per Ann: 19046 0 0
The whole amounting to fifty three Thousand three hundred and eighty one Livres eight Sols and six Deniers 53381 8 6
345 image

From which accounts there appears a balance of four thousand three hundred and seventy two Livres thirteen Sols and six Deniers in favor of the honble. John Adams Esqr. But, as they have no Rule to go by in allowing his Expenditures or Pay, they have stated the Account as above, and beg Leave to submit the whole to the Honble. Congress.

They beg Leave to remark that the Examination of the Copy of an Account marked A which they received with Mr. Adams's other Accounts and is for joint Expences of himself, Doctr. Franklin and Mr. Deane, cannot be gone into at Present, the Monies credited therein having been received, and the Vouchers to said Account remain with him. But from a View of the Charges therein they find

That their joint Expences amount to 13307 13 0
The particular Account of Benja. Franklin 2979 14 0
Ditto Silas Deane 1323 18 0
Cloathing for Mr. J. Adams 54 0 0 } 1014 0 0
Cash received by him and which he credits for in his Account reported on 960 0 0
Amounting to eighteen thousand six hundred and twenty-five Livres five Sols 18625 5 0
signed Wm: Govett John D: Mercier

Committed and a Report made Decr. 154 which Report was resumed April 15. 1780.

April 15 1780

The Committee to whom was referred the Report of the Commissioners of Accounts of the 25th. of Octr. last on the Accounts of the honble. John Adams Esqr. late one of the Commissioners of the United States at the Court of Versailles report5

That they do not find any Vote or Proceeding of Congress nor are they informed of any general or received Custom on which the Charge of Monies for the Education of the Accomptants Son can be admitted; and, though the same is inconsiderable they are of Opinion it ought to be rejected that a Precedent be not established.

That they are of Opinion the charge for Books ought to be admitted on the Ground of a practise which has obtained in different Nations respecting their public Ministers and which is mentioned by Mr. Adams in the Explanations attending his Vouchers.

That they find the several charges in the said Accounts conformable 346to the strictest principles of Oconomy and that as far as Mr. Adams has been intrusted with public Money the same has been carefully and frugally expended.

Resolved That Congress agree to the said Report.

The content of all or some notes that appeared on this page in the printed volume has been moved to the end of the preceding document.

RC (Adams Papers). Enclosure, printed herewith: copies in Lovell's hand of several reports and the final vote of Congress, 1779–1780, on the settlement of JA's accounts as joint United States commissioner in Paris, 1778–1779.


In his letter to President Jay of 3 Aug. 1779 reporting his return home, JA had asked “whether Congress will choose to receive my Accounts alone, or to wait untill the other Commissioners shall exhibit theirs, so as to have the whole together under one View, in order to do equal Justice to all” (PCC, No. 84, I; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 3:277). The letter was read on 20 Aug. and referred to the Board of Treasury to decide this question ( JCC , 14:981). What followed has been set forth in detail in a note by the editors on Lovell's letter to AA of 9 Aug. 1779, p. 220–222, above, and need not be repeated here. See, however, JA's record of Personal Receipts and Expenditures, Feb. 1778–Aug. 1779 ( Diary and Autobiography , 2:325–344), and his letter to the Board of Treasury, transmitting and explaining his accounts, together with such vouchers as he possessed, 19 Sept. 1779 (LbC, Adams Papers; Works , 7:111–114).


The original of this document has not been found in PCC and may now exist only in the present copy made by Lovell and sent to AA.


This was actually “a pair of coarse homespun Breeches” belonging to JQA, into the waistband of which eight or more guineas had been sewn (JA to William McCreery, 15 April 1778, above). This humble article, lost either in Bordeaux or on the road between Bordeaux and Paris, became “a Garment” in JA's rough accounts ( Diary and Autobiography , 2:326) and has here completed its evolution into respectability by becoming a lined coat.


The accountants' report had been referred on 27 Oct. to a committee of three members—James Forbes, John Mathews, and William Churchill Houston. They presented their report on 15 Dec., but no action was then taken on it. See JCC , 15:1212, 1383.


The original, in W. C. Houston's hand, is in PCC, No. 19, I. Deducting 1,861 livres 1s. for “Schooling his Son,” Congress agreed to the audit, without further change after what Lovell called “indecent Delay,” on 15 April 1780 ( JCC , 16:368–369). The balance in JA's favor (not indicated in the Journal) then stood at 2,511 livres 12s. 6d., the sum finally paid over to him. See further, Lovell to JA, 4 May (Adams Papers); AA to JA, 5 July; Lovell to AA, 3 Sept.; and AA to Lovell, 17 Sept.; all below.