Papers of John Adams, volume 9

To Horatio Gates

To the President of Congress, No. 20

To Nathanael Greene, 18 March 1780 JA Greene, Nathanael


To Nathanael Greene, 18 March 1780 Adams, John Greene, Nathanael
To Nathanael Greene
Dear Sir Paris March 18th. 1780

Give me Leave, by the Opportunity of the Viscount de Noailles, to take this Method of reviving a Correspondence, which has been interupted almost three Years, but was one of the most pleasing I ever had.1

It is unnecessary to say any thing of the Expedition with which this Letter is intended to go, because I hope it will reveal itself to You, in Accounts which will make themselves heard and understood by all the World.

As there is a probability, that there will be more frequent Communication, with America this Summer, than there ever has been, let me beg the favor of your Sentiments both upon Subjects of Policy and War.

Every Operation of your Army has its Influence upon all the Powers of Europe in France, Spain, England, Ireland, Holland, Sweeden, Denmark, Russia, Prussia, Portugal, and even in the German Empire.

America is the City, set upon a Hill,2 I do not think myself guilty of Exaggeration, Vanity or Presumption, when I say, that the proceedings of Congress are more attended to, than those of any Court in Europe, and the Motions of our Armies than any of theirs. And there are more political Lies made and circulated about both, than all the rest: which renders genuine Intelligence, from good Authority, the more interesting and important.


There is a great Variety of Policy on foot, in England, Ireland, Holland, and among the Northern Powers, all tending to favor the Cause of America, which is promoted by nothing more than by prompt and accurate Intelligence.

I am, Sir, as much as ever, your Friend and Servant

LbC in John Thaxter's hand (Adams Papers.)


The last known letter from JA to Nathanael Greene is of 7 July 1777 and, since that letter may not have been sent, the last letter known to have been received by Greene is of 2 June 1777 (vol. 5:213–214, 238–241). Greene's last known letter to JA is of 28 May 1777 (vol. 5:206–208). For a possible explanation of the long gap in the correspondence, see the annotation to JA's letter of 7 July 1777. This letter did not lead to an immediate resumption of the correspondence, for Greene did not reply until 28 Jan. 1782 (Dft, DLC: Greene Papers).


Matthew 5:14; see also John Winthrop, “A Modell of Christian Charity,” The Winthrop Papers, Mass. Historical Society, 6 vols. to date, 1929– , 2:295.