Papers of John Adams, volume 8

To Henry Marchant

To Daniel Roberdeau

138 To the President of the Congress, 10 September 1779 JA President of Congress Jay, John To the President of the Congress, 10 September 1779 Adams, John President of Congress Jay, John
To the President of the Congress
Sir Braintree September 10.1 1779

Looking over the printed Journals of Congress of the fifteenth day of last April, I find in the Report of the Committee, appointed to take into Consideration the foreign Affairs of these united States, and also the Conduct of the late and present Commissioners of these States; the two following Articles.

“1. That it appears to them that Dr. Franklin, is Plenipotentiary, for these States at the Court of France, Dr. A. Lee Commissioner for the Court of Spain, Mr. William Lee Commissioner for the Courts of Vienna and Berlin, Mr. Ralph Izard Commissioner for the Court of Tuscany: that Mr. J. Adams was appointed one of the Commissioners at the Court of France in the Place of Mr. Deane, who had been appointed a joint Commissioner with Dr. Franklin and Dr. A. Lee, but that the Said Commission of Mr. Adams is Superseeded by the Plenipotentiary Commission to Dr. Franklin.

“3d. That in the Course of their Examination and Enquiry, they find many Complaints against the Said Commissioners, and the political and commercial Agency of Mr. Deane which Complaints, with the Evidence in Support thereof are herewith delivered, and to which the Committee beg Leave to refer.”

The Word “Said” in the third Article refers to the Commissioners mentioned in the first, and as my Name, is among them, I learn from hence, that there were Some Complaints2 against me, and that the Evidence in Support of them was delivered in to Congress by the Committee.3

I therefore pray, that I may be favoured4 with Copies of those Complaints and Evidences,5 and the Names of my Accusers and the Witnesses against me, that I may take such Measures, as may be in my Power to justify myself to Congress. I have the Honour to be with great Respect, Sir your most obedient and most humble servant

John Adams

RC (PCC, No. 84, I, f. 89); docketed: “John Adams Esq 10th. Sepr. 1779 Read 29.” LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “not sent sent.”


The Letterbook has an original date of “August 17” crossed out and “September 10” substituted. Since the Letterbook copy comes after a series of letters written in August, it is likely that JA intended to enter a letter on 17 Aug. and then changed his mind. When he wrote this letter, the first of eight dated 10 Sept. entered in the Letterbook, he placed it on the same page, which was blank except for the date of 17 August.


The Letterbook reads: “that there were many Complaints or to Speak more certainly Some Complaints t.”


At this point in the Letterbook, the following paragraph is crossed out: “As, 139the Recall of Mr Deane, was made, by Congress, when I was absent and as I had the honour of being elected and to receive a Commission from Congress, without the smallest solicitation, or indeed the least Expectation, or Desire when I was five hundred Miles distant at least. As I readily undertook this arduous office and have executed it, to the entire satisfaction of the August sovereign to whom I was sent through many Hazards of my life and Liberty, to the entire particular satisfaction of that August Sovereign to whom I was sent, I think I have a Claim upon the Justice of my Country that, my Reputation may not be permitted to be Stained, unless I deserve it.” In the margins at the bottom of the page opposite the first part of the paragraph and again at the top of the next page opposite the second part of the paragraph is the word “erased.”


The Letterbook has: “I therefore humbly request that Congress would favour me.”


See enclosures in James Lovell to JA, 14 Sept. (below).