Papers of John Adams, volume 8

To the President of the Congress, No. 1

To James Lovell

To Michel Lagoanere, 16 December 1779 JA Lagoanere, Michel To Michel Lagoanere, 16 December 1779 Adams, John Lagoanere, Michel
To Michel Lagoanere
Sir Corunna Decr. 16 17791

I am So little acquainted with the Language and Usages of this Country that I am under a Necessity of troubling some Gentleman so much as to ask the favour of his Advice and Assistance, in order to pass through the Kingdom of Spain, in my Way to Paris.

I therefore beg the favour of you2 to inform me, whether I can have Carriages, Horses Mules &c. in this Place, to carry me to Bayonne, Bilboa, or Madrid. At what Price I can hire a Coach large enough for four Persons, at what Price I can hire a Chaise or Cabriolet, which will carry two Persons. The Consul of France3 has assured Me, that he will furnish me with a Man acquainted with the Spanish Language, and the Roads. Whether it is best to hire Mules by the Day, and how much I must give: or whether it would be most prudent to hire Mules and Carriages to go to Madrid, and depend upon getting Carriages and Horses there for the rest of the Journey to Bayonne.

My own Inclination is to go to Madrid, and from thence to Bilbao and thence to Bayonne.

I have with me, three Gentlemen, The Honourable Francis Dana Esq., Mr. Allen and Mr. Thaxter. Besides those I have three Children, from 8 to 12 Years of Age and three servants, one of Mr. Dana and one of Mr. Allen—making in all Ten Persons.

I should be obliged to you, sir for your Advice, what will be the best Way for me to travel, how many Carriages Mules &c. to take and what Road.


I should also be obliged to you for a short sketch of the Route We are to take, and the Names of the principal Places We are to pass through.

I should be obliged to you for your Answer in Writing4 & am, with great Respect, sir your most obedient servant.

LbC (Adams Papers).


JA and his party had arrived at La Coruña from El Ferrol the previous evening. For accounts of the one-day journey, which both JA and John Thaxter estimated at about twenty miles, see JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:409; JQA, Diary , 1:13; and Adams Family Correspondence , 3:251, 252.


Lagoanere was described by JA in a letter 16 Jan. 1780 to the president of the congress as “a Gentleman who has acted for some time as an American Agent at Corunna” (calendared, below; JA, Diary and Autobiography , 4:230). For JQA's description of him, see JQA, Diary , 1:18.


Detournelle (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:405).


In his very friendly and informative reply of 17 Dec. (Adams Papers), Lagoanere answered JA's questions in considerable detail, telling him of possible problems in preparing for the trip and giving the approximate charges for hiring carriages and mules. He also described the routes to Bayonne and the advantages of going there by way of Madrid. Lagoanere closed his letter by stating that “J'ai l'honneur de remettre a Notre Excellence un Itineraire des Routes de ce Royaume.” This was probably Joseph Mathias Escrivano's Itinerario español, o guia de caminos, para ir desde Madrid a todas las ciudades . . ., 3d edn., Madrid, 1767, which is in JA's library at the Boston Public Library, where it bears the notation “Presented by Mr. Lagoanere, American Agent at Corunna to John Adams, Decr. 20, 1779” ( Catalogue of JA's Library ). The titlepage is reproduced in JA, Diary and Autobiography , 4:following 130.