Papers of John Adams, volume 8

To Edmund Jenings

From Arthur Lee

From Edmund Jenings, 2 June 1779 Jenings, Edmund JA


From Edmund Jenings, 2 June 1779 Jenings, Edmund Adams, John
From Edmund Jenings
Dear Sir Paris June 2d. 1779

I am much honored by the open and Confidential Manner, in which you have written to me; in return to which, I must assure you, that I heartily Concur with You in your Sentiments of the Necessity of the french Courts holding a Most liberal and neutral Conduct, and that it will do so, I look upon the New Appointment,1 to be an Earnest. I am to have the Honour of meeting the Gentleman, who is going out, to-70morrow at Dinner. I have heard such Accounts of Him, that I Shall go much prejudiced in his favor. Your Opinion of the Necessity of appointing different Men for the Mercantile Maritime and Money Matters are just. At present the Power of the Minister2 is vast indeed, too much for any Man, and in Case of Accidents, the whole depending on one life, maybe highly detrimental to the States for want of a Successor or Chargé des Affaires on the Spot.

When you was informd that Mr. D was coming over, you ought to be informed it was not much Credited by me, it was however positively assertd by one of his friends. But when I asked the Question of another, I was convincd there was little foundation for it. You show me the Impropriety of the permission. The Narrow Capacity, the Immeasurable Vanity, together with the Intrigue and Subtility of the Man, must make Him most dangerous. But I must tell you He is in the highest Repute here—His bust was placed in your Apartments immediately as you Quitted them.3

The Questions you Ask, as to the intended Expedition occurred to every one. Some others might be Asked? Who advised the Sending french Troops to any part of America? And who contested that the Alliance, which surely ought to have attended the American Ships out, when left by the french Men of war, on their own most Dangerous Coasts? but to these and other Questions, the Answer is now given. The Expedition is totally Laid Aside; so that you may yet go in your favorite Vessel.4

I Know the Difficulty of recommending Men who may be proper to discharge the public business, but I think I can with Ease and pleasure recommend Mr. Joshua Johnson,5 now residing at Nantes, to be Consul there. He is the Brother of the Govr. of Maryland, and is at present charged with the particulars Commission of that State. But is there not at present a Commercial Agent or Consul there already?

I was preventd sending to You by the last Post. I have since I wrote the foregoing seen the Minister who Answered my Expectation. He sets out tomorrow for L Orient. He goes by the Way of Orleans I believe to visit Choiseul.6 I shall beg the favor of his Secretary to deliver a Packet to You—of Which I Shall be obliged to you for the Delivery in America. They Talk in England and Here of Spain taking a part. The Jamaica fleet is arrived.

I beg you remember me to your Son and Mr. Ford7 who I Hope goes with You. You all go with my best Wishes.

I am Dear Sir Your Most Obt Humble Servt Edm: Jenings

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “A Monsieur Monsieur Jean Adams. au Soin de Monsieur Moylan á L Orient.”; docketed by CFA: “E. Jennings. June 2d. 1779.”


Chevalier de la Luzerne.


Benjamin Franklin.


This bust of Silas Deane has not been located.


See Benjamin Franklin to JA, 24 April, note 1 (above).


Johnson, whose daughter Louisa Catherine married JQA in 1797, had first met JA on 12 April 1778 at Paris. While at Nantes in April 1779, JA spoke with him about trade and the appointment of consuls (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:299, 357–359, 363; for a sketch of Johnson, see same, 2:300).


La Luzerne apparently meant to visit Etienne François de Choiseul-Stainville, Duc de Choiseul, Vergennes' predecessor as foreign minister from 1758 to 1770. La Luzerne reached Lorient on either 10 or 11 June (JA to the president of the congress, 3 Aug., below; JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:380). Barbé-Marbois had arrived a few days earlier (JA to Arthur Lee, 9 June, below).


Hezekiah Ford did not return to America with JA (JA to Arthur Lee, 9 June, below).