Papers of John Adams, volume 9

To John Bondfield

To Edmé Jacques Genet

To Jonathan Williams, 14 May 1780 JA Williams, Jonathan


To Jonathan Williams, 14 May 1780 Adams, John Williams, Jonathan
To Jonathan Williams
Dear sir Paris May. 14 1780

I have received yours of the 9th.1 I received a Letter signed Jna Williams, as I thought, but it seems it was Jno. Williams.2 I did not discover my Error, untill after my Answer was gone, when inquiring of Dr. Franklin, I found I must have been mistaken.


I have lost, I know not how much, but believe a great deal, in several large Packetts, one from Congress another from the Council of Mass. Bay, a third from my family besides many Single Letters from my friends, all of which Mr. Austin was obliged to cast into the Sea after he was taken.3 So that I have only received a few Scattering Letters by the Way of Spain and Holland, which contain no other News than you have heard before.

They have received at Versailles, from the West Indies directly from M. De la Motte Piquet, and by the Way of the London Papers, very important news from the W. Indies, which you will have immediately in the Papers. Guichen is arrived. An Expedition that was filling out is disconnected. Piquet had defeated Parker, so far as to secure his Convoy.4 On the 29 of March Clinton had made no Impression on Charlestown. There is no certain Account yet of Walsinghams sailing. The Ct. of St. James's have suppressed Arbuthnots Letter entirely,5 which gives room to suppose that the fleet suffered more than they are willing should be known.

I thank you sir, for your Assurances, that you will communicate to me, the News. Every Circumstance from our Country is interesting. I pray you to make my Compliments to Mrs. Williams, and am with, much Esteem, your humble and obt. sert.

LbC (Adams Papers).


Not found.


For the confusion over the letter, which was apparently dated 25 April (not found), see JA to Jonathan Williams, 30 April, and note 2 (above).


Jonathan Loring Austin was captured in February while on a mission to Europe to obtain a loan for Massachusetts. Soon released, he reached Paris sometime prior to 12 May (Mass. Council to JA, 13 Jan., note 2, vol. 8:309; JA to AA, 12 May, Adams Family Correspondence , 3:338).


Compare the news here with that in JA's letter to John Bondfield of 14 May, and note 1 (above). La Motte-Picquet fought a force under Capt. William Cornwallis, not Rear Adm. Hyde Parker.


The source of JA's information is not known nor is it clear to exactly what he is referring. The London newspapers of 1 May had carried letters from Lt. Gen Sir Henry Clinton of 9 March, Lt. Gen. Wilhelm von Knyphausen of 27 March, and Maj. Gen. William Pattison of 22 Feb. reporting on the military situation in America. Clinton's letter described the progress of his efforts against Charleston and mentioned in passing the very difficult voyage from New York (see Thomas Digges' letter of 3 March, and note 6, above). There was no letter from Adm. Marriot Arbuthnot, commander of the fleet carrying Clinton's army. The absence of any communication from Arbuthnot was remarked upon as “extraordinary” in the London Courant of 1 May, but no evidence has been found that such a letter existed or that it was suppressed by the ministry.