Papers of John Adams, volume 9

From Thomas Digges

To Edmé Jacques Genet

From Benjamin Rush, 28 April 1780 Rush, Benjamin JA


From Benjamin Rush, 28 April 1780 Rush, Benjamin Adams, John
From Benjamin Rush
My Dear friend Philada. April 28th. 1780 1

This letter will be handed to you by Dr. John Foulke2 (a Graduate in our University) a young gentleman of a respectable Quaker family who goes to France to finish his Studies in Medicine. He is a youth of a fair character, and promising Abilities, and friendly to the liberties of his country.

It gave me great pleasure to hear of your safe Arrival, and favourable reception in Spain. We long to hear of your entering upon the 248business of your embassy. I almost envy your Children the happiness of calling that man their father who After contributing his Share towards giving liberty and independance, will finally be honoured as the instrument of restoring peace to the united States of America.

Our Affairs wear their usual checkered Aspect. Our Governments are daily acquiring new Strength. Our Army which I saw a few weeks ago at Morristown3 has improved greatly since our former correspondence in discipline, Oeconomy, and healthiness. The number of our Soldiers is small, occasioned not by a decay of the military, or whiggish Spirit among us, but by the want of money to purchase recruits. The new Scheme of Congress for calling in the circulating money at 40 to 1, will I beleive be adopted with some Alterations by the States.4 This will We hope restore to our counsels and arms the vigor of 1775.

The french Alliance is not less dear to the true Whigs than independance itself. The Chevr. de la Luzerne has made even the tories forget in some degree, in his liberality and politeness, the Meschianzas 5 of their British friends. Monsr. Gerard is still dear to the faithful citizens of America. We call him the “Republican Minister.”

Charlestown is in Jeopardy, but we beleive all things will work together for good for those who love the good old cause—the cause not to be repented off. Commerce and agriculture flourish in Spite of the power of Britain by land and water, and even Pennsylvania enjoys a temporary Security for property and life under her new Constitution.

Adieu—Compts: to Mr. Dana. Yours—yours—yours

Benjn: Rush

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “The Honble: John Adams Esqr: (of the United States) now at Paris.” endorsed: “Dr. Rush Ap. 28. ansd. 1 July.” docketed by CFA: “1780.”


JA enclosed an extract from this letter, probably the 3d and 4th paragraphs, in his letter of 2 July to Vergennes (below).


John Foulke, who remained abroad until at least 1783, was later a prominent teacher and physician in Philadelphia ( Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S. , 4:98; Benjamin Rush, Letters , 1:252).


Rush had been to Washington's headquarters at Morristown in March to testify against William Shippen Jr., Director General of Hospitals for the Continental Army, at his court martial (Benjamin Rush, Letters , 1:247–249).


On 18 March Congress adopted a plan that was intended to stem the runaway inflation that was crippling the economy and damaging the war effort. Under the new measure the monthly payments by the states, which had been set at $15,000,000 by a resolution of 7 Oct. 1779, would be redeemed at the rate of forty continental dollars to one Spanish milled dollar ( JCC , 16:262–267, 15:1150). This had the immediate effect of revaluing the existing emission from $200,000,000 to $5,000,000, but was to result in a new emission, as the old was redeemed and destroyed over a period of approximately thirteen months, of $10,000,000. So that they would retain their value, the new bills were to be backed by both the states and 249Congress and carry a five percent interest rate. The plan failed because it proved impossible for the states to remit all of the funds due Congress in the form of continental currency, with the result that by June of 1781 only $31,000,000 of the old emission had been retired. At that point the currency was valued at 500 to 1 and for all intents had ceased to exist except as a vehicle for speculation (E. James Ferguson, The Power of the Purse , Chapel Hill, 1961, p. 51–53, 64–66).

For the effect of Congress' action on JA's relations with Vergennes, see The Revaluation Controversy, 16 June –1 July, Editorial Note; Vergennes to JA, 21 June; JA to Vergennes, 22 June (second letter), all below.


For a description of the mischianza, the elaborate farewell pageant staged by Sir William Howe's officers upon his departure from Philadelphia in May 1778, see Ira D. Gruber, The Howe Brothers and the American Revolution, N.Y., 1972, p. 298–299.