Papers of John Adams, volume 8

From Arthur Lee

From Jonathan Loring Austin

From Edmund Jenings, 6 June 1779 Jenings, Edmund JA From Edmund Jenings, 6 June 1779 Jenings, Edmund Adams, John
From Edmund Jenings
Dear Sir June. 16 ca. 6: 17791

I did Myself the pleasure of writing to You by the Secretary of the Count de la Luzerne, inclosing a Letter to Genl. Gates and sending a Remembrancer.2 I was in Hopes of sending to You by the same Opportunity 4 Parliamentary Registers containing the Papers, which have passed between the Howes Burgoyne and the Ministry,3 but having lent them to Mr. Genet coud not get them back with time Enough to Send them, but when I receive them, will immediately transmit them to You. These Papers and the Examination of the Officers, returnd from America, have made a great Impression on the Nation and the House of Commons. They shew the Absurdity of the American War in So Strong a light, that it is universally said in England, that Lord North and the Bedford faction are now inclined to Peace. In Consequence of which there are great divisions in the Councils of England. Ld. G. Germaine however continues his Malignant folly and Cowardice and will persist for4 perhaps He is supported by a man of Equal Malignity, folly and Cowardice.

I have heard these Matters above a fortnight Ago, without attending to them Much, but they are repeated Again by the last Post in a Strong Manner. I have heard too strong reports of the favorable Intentions of Spain towards France, and it is certain that the people of England suspect her Immediate Declaration. Mr. Burk had said in the House of 75Commons that the Mediation of Spain is broke off and the Ministry did not deny it.5 Arbuthnots fleet saild the 11th Ultimo.6 It said here that a Packet7 has been received from America of a late date at Passy, the Contents of which is Kept a profound Secret from the Americans at Paris. The Vessel arrivd in Holland and Saild from Annapolis in Maryland the 23 April. By other letters by the same Ship, it is reported that Mr. Deanes Party gains ground and is determind to Sacrifice Mr. A. Lee. The English Minister has heard? had Accounts from the W Indies which do not please, those Which France has receivd on the other Hand are Agreable.

I wrote to You a Letter,8 directd for you as this is, to the Care of Mr. Moylan. I shall be glad to hear they are receivd and that you are well.

I am Dear Sir Yours Most Faithfully Edm: Jenings

P.S. It is said there are such great Divisions in Congress as that the Minority has seceded.

Lord North having last Week opend his 3d Budget it now appears the Ministry must raise Twenty Millions this Year.9

It is probable the Parliament will Either offer other Terms to America before it rises, or give the King Powers to make Peace with America.

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “A Monsieur Monsieur John Adams, au Soin de Monsieur Moylan a L Orient”; docketed: “Mr Jennings June 16. 1779.” Filmed under the date of 16 June (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 350).


The date as written by Jenings appears to be “16,” but as JA noted in his reply of 12 June (below), the letter could not have been written then. JA thought that it was probably written on the 10th, which also seems too late. It is unlikely that Jenings' letter could have been carried the approximately three hundred miles from Paris to Lorient in only two days; an examination of contemporary letters sent from Paris indicates that they took from four to ten days. This fact, together with Jenings' mention of the introduction of Lord North's third budget “last week” — an event that occurred on 31 May — raises the possibility that Jenings inadvertently placed a “I” before the “6,” suggesting a more likely date of 6 June.


The letter referred to has not been identified, but it was probably part of the packet that Jenings intended Barbé-Marbois to carry (Jenings to JA, 2 June, above). JA received the Remembrancer, but he did not receive the letter to Gates until later (JA to Jenings, 8, 12 June; Gates to JA of 20 Aug., all below).


The four issues of the Parliamentary Register mentioned by Jenings were probably Nos. 66, 67, 68, and 69. The papers were those submitted by the North ministry on 18 Feb. in response to a motion of the 17th by Sir William Howe that all letters between himself and Lord George Germain from Aug. 1775 to Nov. 1778 be placed before the House of Commons ( Parliamentary Reg. , 11:253–480).

The submission of the papers was the first step in the attempt by Sir William and Lord Richard Howe, in which Gen. John Burgoyne soon joined, to obtain an inquiry into the conduct of the war in order to justify their actions in America and respond to attacks upon them by the ministry. After considerable parliamentary maneuvering, an agreement was reached to consider the papers and examine wit-76nesses. The inquiry extended from 22 April until 29 June. The witnesses to whose testimony Jenings refers later in this paragraph were probably those called by the Howes on 6, 11, and 18 May, and those supporting Burgoyne, called on 20 and 27 May (Gruber, Howe Brothers , p. 337–350; for the testimony, see Parliamentary Reg. , 13:1–32, 33–63, 91–99, 124–150, 152–177).

In the end the inquiry was inconclusive. The ministry was embarrassed, but its majority held, and no resolutions either approving the conduct of the Howe brothers or condemning that of the ministry, particularly Lord George Germain, were passed. Certainly the inquiry did nothing to incline either Lord North or the Bedford faction, one of the main supports of the North government, toward peace.


The “for” is written over an illegible word, and the exact sense of the passage is uncertain, but Jenings probably means that Germain had the support of George III.


Edmund Burke twice declared during debate over the budget on 31 May, that the mediation had failed, reportedly stating in the second instance that “all negotiation is at an end, that Spain is openly leagued with France. The noble lord [North] knows it. I call upon him to contradict me; if he does not, I shall take it for granted” ( Parliamentary Hist. , 20:826–827). The London Chronicle of 29 May – 1 June reported, “the Minister was silent.”


See Ralph Izard to JA, 21 May, note 2 (above).


Possibly that referred to as coming by way of St. Eustatius and Holland (Franklin to James Lovell, 2 June, and to John Jay, 9 June, Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 3:199–200, 215–216).


That of 2 June (above).


Lord North reopened the budget on 31 May. The estimate of £20,000,000 was by David Hartley of the opposition; North put the amount at approximately £15,200,000 ( Parliamentary Hist. , 20:818–820).