Sir Corunna December 16 1779
By the Opportunity of a small Vessel, accidentally in this harbour, bound to Newbury Port, I have the honour to inform Congress, that I have been detained by violent Rains and several Accidents in Ferrol untill Yesterday, when I set out with my Family for this place, and arrived last Evening without any Accident. I waited immediately on the Governor of the Province, and on the Governor of the Town and received many Civilities from both: and particularly from his Excellency the Governor of the Province of Gallicia an Assurance, that he was not only personally disposed to render me every hospitality and Assistance in his Power, but that he had received express orders from 205his Court to treat all Americans that should arrive here, like their best Friends.
These Personages were very inquisitive about American Affairs, particularly the Progress of our Arms and the Operations of the Count D'Estaing; and more particularly still concerning the Appointment of a Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of Madrid. They requested his Name, Character, Nativity, Age; whether he was a Member of Congress, and whether he had been President, with many other particulars.
To all these questions I made the best Answers in my Power: and with respect to his Excellency the Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of Madrid, I gave them the most exact information, and such a respectable Character as the high Offices he has sustained, and his own personal merit, require.
It is the prevailing Opinion here, that the Court of Madrid is well disposed to enter into a Treaty with the United States, and that the Minister from Congress will be immediately received, American Independence acknowledged, and a Treaty concluded.
The Frigate the Sensible, is found to be in so bad a Condition, that I am advised by every body to go to France by Land.—The Season, the Roads, the Accommodations for travelling are so unfavourable, that it is not expected I can get to Paris in less than thirty days. But if I were to wait for the Frigate it would probably be much longer. I am determined therefore to make the best of my Way by Land. And it is possible that this Journey may prove of some Service to the Public, at least I hope the Public will sustain no loss by it, though it will be tedious and expensive to me.
There are six Battalions of Irish Troops in Spain, in three Regiments, several of whose Officers have visited me, to assure me of their respects to the United States.
I have been this Afternoon to see the Tower de Fer, and the Island of Cezarga which was rendered famous in the Course of the last Summer, by being appointed the Rendezvous of the French and Spanish Fleets. The French Fleet arrived at this Island on the ninth day of June last, but were not joined by the Spanish Fleet from Ferrol untill sometime in July, nor by that from Cadiz till much later; so that the combined Fleets were not able to sail for the English Channel, untill the thirtyeth of July. To prevent a similar inconvenience, another Campaign, there are about five and twenty Spanish Ships of the Line, now in Brest, which are to winter there, and be ready to sail with the French Fleet, the approaching Summer, at the first Opening of the Season. God grant them Success and tryumph!206
Although no Man wishes for Peace more sincerely than I, or would take more pleasure or think himself more highly honoured by being instrumental in bringing it about; yet I confess I see no prospect or hope of it, at least before the End of another Summer. America will be amused with rumours of Peace, and Europe too: but the English are not yet in a temper for it.
The Court of Russia has lately changed its Ambassador at the Court of London, and sometime in the month of October Mr. Simolin, the New Minister Plenipotentiary from the Court of Petersbourg to the Court of London, passed through France in his Way to England and resided about three Weeks in Paris. From this Circumstance a Report has been spread in Europe, that the Court of Russia is about to undertake the Office of Mediator between the belligerent Powers. But from conversation with several Persons of distinction since my Arrival in Spain, particularly with Monsieur Le Comte De Sade the Chef D'Escadre commanding the French Men of War now in Ferrol, I am persuaded, that, if Russia has any thoughts of a Mediation, the Independence of the United States, will be insisted on by her as a Preliminary and Great Britain will feel much more reluctance to agree to this, than to the Cession of Gibraltar, which it is said Spain absolutely insists upon.
I have the honor to be with the greatest respect, Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant
John Adams His Excellency Samuel Huntington Esqr. President of Congress.