Papers of John Adams, volume 9

To the President of Congress, No. 71

From Jonathan Williams

From Samuel Cooper, 23 May 1780 Cooper, Samuel JA


From Samuel Cooper, 23 May 1780 Cooper, Samuel Adams, John
From Samuel Cooper
My dear Sir Boston May 23d. 1780 1

The Marquiss de la Fayette did me the Honour to deliver me the Letter you kindly wrote by Him.2 As his arrival diffused a general Joy, every Expression of it was given here that circumstances would allow, and particular Respects were paid by the Government as well as the People at large to this prudent and gallant young Nobleman who keeps the Cause of America so warm at his Heart. In these Respects Mr. Corny had his Share,3 as well as Capt. la Touche Commander of the Frigate in which the Marquiss arrived:4 The former, a Gentleman of Letters as well as great Politeness, who acquired much Esteem in this Town in a little Time, is gone on to Head Quarters, and from thence to Congress; the latter who offer'd his Service to the Government of this State in the true Spirit of the Alliance has just returned from a shoot Cruize on our Coast, undertaken at the Desire of the 335Council. He has visited Penobscot, taken a near View of the Fort at Baggaduce, made two British Sloops of War commanded by Mawett who burnt Falmouth,5 retire up the River, brought us an acurate Plan of the Fortress, and done every Thing Time and Circumstances would allow for our Service. The Presence of this Frigate, under the Command of so brave an Officer and so well affected to the common Cause will be of great Advantage to the Trade of this State, and particularly to the Supply of this Town with Wood. Such Instances of Friendship and Aid make the most agreable Impressions on the Minds of the People, and cultivate the Alliance; and I cannot but observe with Pleasure evident Marks of the growing Friendship between the two Nations.

Mr. Bradford to whom I give this Letter, can tell you all the News respecting Charlestown, the West Indies &c. but as he goes to Gottenberg in his Way to France, and another Vessel will soon sail to Holland, or France, which may probably be an earlier Conveyance than this, I shall do my self the Pleasure to write you more particularly by that.6

The proposed Plan of a Constitution is like to be ratified by the Consent of the People; in this Town it was unanimously accepted, in every Article but the 3'd in the Bill of Rights respecting Religion.7 In our late Choice of Representatives for this Capital, Tudor was left out, and Lowell chosen, who has distinguish'd himself in the Convention.8 The late Measures of Congress respecting the Currency are as agreable as could be expected on such a Subject; and our Court have pass'd an Act to call in all the Paper Dollars by a Tax in the Course of a Year, and to raise £75000 in hard Money.9

I think with Concern on the Trouble my Grandson10 may have given you, and am extremely obliged to you for the very kind Care you have taken of him; an obligation I can never forget. The Alliance, tho daily expected, is not yet arrived, nor any Account of his Expences; but Col. Johonnot proposes to imbarque in the Hermoine, or if she should be detained here for the Summer, which at present is uncertain, he will embrace the first opportunity of going to France, and assures me he will most cheerfully make every Provision for his Son.

With every Sentiment of Esteem and Affection, I am, my dear Sir, Your's

Saml. Cooper

We mean our Boy should be Supported with all the Frugality that Decency and Comfort will allow.


RC (Adams Papers.)


JA enclosed this letter in his to Jean Luzac of 20 Sept. (Adams Papers) and the first and third paragraphs of the text, with the greeting and date, appeared in French in the Gazette de Leyde of 29 September. It should also be noted that the first and second paragraphs are almost identical to the first and last paragraphs of Cooper's letter to Benjamin Franklin of 23 May (The Complete Works of Benjamin Franklin, ed. John Bigelow, 10 vols., N.Y., 1887–1888, 7:60–62).


Of 28 Feb. (vol. 8:374–375).


Dominique Louis Ethis de Corny served as a commissary charged with the responsibility of purchasing supplies for Rochambeau's army (Lafayette in the Age of the American Revolution, ed. Stanley J. Idzerda and others, 5 vols., Ithaca, N.Y., 1977–1983, 3:23).


Louis René Madeleine Le Vassor, Comte de La Touche-Tréville, commander of the Hermione, offered his services to the Mass. Council in a letter of 2 May, to which the Council replied on the 13th, requesting that he cruise from Boston to Penobscot Bay. The Hermione accomplished this mission between 14 and 21 May (same, 3:33). The Council's enthusiastic acceptance of La Touche's offer and the effect of its success in raising the people's spirits is understandable in view of the fact that the British navy's operations along the New England coast had gone largely unchallenged since the destruction of the American fleet at Penobscot in July and Aug. 1779 (vol. 8:31). The impact of a single frigate could also be seen as justifying JA's continued calls for the dispatch of additional French naval vessels to American waters (see JA's letters to Vergennes of 13, 21, and 27 July, all below; and vol. 8:index, under JA—Military Interests). Cooper's account of La Touche's expedition to Penobscot Bay and the fort at Bagaduce (now Castine, Maine) later in this paragraph is very similar to the report that appeared in the Independent Chronicle of 25 May.


Capt. Henry Mowat, who had burned the town of Falmouth (now Portland, Maine) in Oct. 1775, commanded the British naval forces at Penobscot Bay, notably the sloops Albany and Nautilus (vol. 3:251–252; Independent Chronicle, 25 May).


“Mr. Bradford” was probably Samuel Bradford, whom JA had met in Europe in 1779 and who, according to a letter from his father John Bradford to Benjamin Franklin, was returning there in 1780 (vol. 7:356, 357, 424; Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S. , 2:307). Cooper had also written to JA on 11 May (Adams Papers) to introduce Benjamin Guild, former tutor at Harvard and future husband of AA's cousin Elizabeth Quincy, who was sailing on the same ship as Bradford. For a sketch of Guild, and an extract from Cooper's letter, see Adams Family Correspondence , 3:322. Although Cooper states that the vessel was going to Göteberg, Sweden, both men were in Amsterdam by mid-August (JQA, Diary , 1:52, 57). Cooper did not write again until 25 July (below).


The proposed Massachusetts Constitution, particularly Art. 3 of the Declaration of Rights, was debated at Boston town meetings from 3 through 12 May (Boston Record Commissioners, 26th Report , p. 125–135). For specific objections raised to Art. 3, see the Boston Gazette of 22 May.


John Lowell was elected to the Mass. House on 16 May in place of William Tudor (Boston Record Commissioners, 26th Report , p. 62, 136).


Adopted on 5 May, the first and tenth sections of the act provided for a special tax of £5.6 million to remove paper currency from circulation and an annual tax of £72,000, to be collected for seven years and payable in specie or specified goods, for the redemption of new interest-bearing bills of credit whose aggregate face value would not exceed £460,000 (Mass., Province Laws , 5:1178–1183; see also Adams Family Correspondence , 3:326, 328).


Samuel Cooper Johonnot. See the letter from his father, Gabriel Johonnot, of 8 Sept. (below).