Diary of John Adams, volume 4

July 25. 1778.

fifth of November 1779

To the President of Congress
Sir Braintree November 4. 1779

I had Yesterday the Honour of receiving your Letter of the twentyeth of October inclosed with two Commissions, appointing me, Minister Plenipotentiary, from the United States, to negotiate Peace and Commerce with Great Britain; together with Instructions for my Government in the Execution of those Commissions; Copies of Instructions to the Ministers Plenipotentiary, at Versailles and Madrid; and two Acts of Congress, of the fourth and fifteenth of October.9

Peace is an Object of such vast importance; the Interests to be adjusted, in the Negotiations to obtain it, are so complicated and so delicate; and the difficulty of giving even general Satisfaction is so great: that I feel myself more distressed at the prospect of executing the Trust, than at the Thoughts of leaving my family and Country; and again encountering the dangers of the Seas and of Enemies.


Yet when I reflect on the general Voice in my favour; and the high honour that is done me by this Appointment: I feel the warmest Sentiments of Gratitude to Congress; shall make no hesitation to accept it; and devote my self without reserve or loss of time, to the discharge of it.

My Success however, may depend in a very great degree, on Intelligence and Advices that I may receive from Congress; and on the punctuality with which several Articles in my Instructions may be kept secret. It shall be my most earnest endeavour to transmit to Congress, the most constant and exact information in my power, of whatever may occur; and to conceal those Instructions which depend, in any measure, on my Judgment.

I hope I need not suggest to Congress the necessity of communicating to me from time to time as early as possible, their Commands; and of keeping all the discretionary Articles an impenetrable Secret: a Suggestion, however, that the Constitution of that Sovereignty, which I have the honor to represent, might excuse.

As the Frigate has been sometime waiting, I shall embark in Eight or ten days, at farthest…Your Excellency will be pleased to present my most dutifull respects to Congress; and accept my Thanks for the polite and obliging manner, in which you have communicated their commands. I have the Honour to be, with great Esteem and respect, your Excellencies most obedient humble Servant

John Adams
His Excellency Samuel Huntington Esqr. President of Congress.10