Papers of John Adams, volume 10

To Benjamin Franklin

From Francis Dana

From John Thaxter, 18 August 1780 Thaxter, John JA From John Thaxter, 18 August 1780 Thaxter, John Adams, John
From John Thaxter
Sir Paris 18th. August 1780

Since I had the honor of writing You last, nothing material has occurred excepting the Declarations of the Danish and Sweedish Courts; which are entered in the Book, and will be forwarded by the first Opportunity to America.1 We sent off a few days agone a large Packet of Newspapers and all the letters by a Gentleman who came to Passy from L'Orient, and who returned thither immediately.2 I have wrote Mrs. A. of your health and safe arrival at Brussells, which I hope will render the rest of a prolix Letter less tedious to her in reading.3

Yesterday morning for the second time since your absence we recieved the English Papers. The Occasion of the delay I know not. You have undoubtedly seen them.

In the Gazette of France of this day there is an Extract of a letter from Colonel Laurens late President of Congress, respecting the Surrender of Charlestown—it is as follows.

“La défense qu'a faite le major Général Lincoln, a la tête d'une garnison composée de 1800 hommes de Troupes reglées, et de 1400. tant Miliciens que Mariniers, contre le Chevalier Clinton, commandant 12000 Anglois, et contre l' Amiral Arbuthnot, qui avoit sous ses ordres 10 vaisseaux de guerre, a été terminée par une capituation honorable, après 30 jours d'une canonnade et d'un bombardement continus, tandis que les habitans de la ville éprouvoient le besoin de vivres et de beaucoup de munitions nécessaires: cette défense ne peut que faire le plus grand honneur aux armes Américaines. Jusqu'alors nous avions différé de faire partir des renforts pour la Caroline méridionale; mais il vient de se réunir une Armée nombreuse, qui pourra bientôt aller inquiéter les Anglois dans leur nouvelle prise de 79possession.”4 This Letter is without date, and to whom it was directed the Gazette does not mention—it was brought to Cadiz by the Peggy Capt. Bryan from Wilmington N. Carolina. I have copied this Extract, lest you should not meet with the Paper. The Printers of the foreign Gazettes begin to publish more reputable, and therefore more true Accounts of the firmness of our Country, than they have done of late. Even Monsr. Linguet has found room for one line in honour of American fortitude.

I should be happy to hear of the receipt of the Packet I sent to You by Dr. Plunket,5 and of your Health as well as of that of your two dear Sons to whom I send much Love.

Mr. Dana is well and desires his Respects to You—his Love to Master John, and also to son fils Charles.

I have the honor to be, with the most perfect Respect, Sir, your Excellency's most obedient and most humble Servant

John Thaxter

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr Thaxter. ansd. Aug. 30.”; docketed by CFA: “Aug. 7th & 18th 1780.” CFA's docketing refers to this letter and Thaxter's earlier one of 7 Aug. ( Adams Family Correspondence , 3:388). JA's answer has not been found, but for some indication of its content, see Thaxter's reply of 4 Sept. (same, 3:411).


The “Book” referred to by Thaxter is Lb/JA/12 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 100) containing JA's letters to the president of Congress. The Danish and Swedish declarations comprised the final letter, designated “No. 100,” in that Letterbook (to the president of Congress, 14 Aug., No. 1, note 1, above).


This was done on 12 Aug., but the person to whom they were entrusted has not been identified (to the president of Congress, 23 July, No. 99, descriptive note, above).


The earliest known letter in which Thaxter informed AA of JA's journey to Amsterdam is that of 21 Aug. ( Adams Family Correspondence , 3:397).


No other information concerning this letter, reportedly by Henry Laurens, has been found, but see Francis Dana's letter of 19 Aug. (below). The following is a translation of the extract:

General Lincoln's defense, at the head of a garrison of 1,800 regulars and 1,400 militiamen and sailors against a force composed of 12,000 English troops under Gen. Clinton and 10 warships under Adm. Arbuthnot, has ended in a honorable capitulation after 30 days of continuous cannonading and bombardment during which the inhabitants suffered from lack of food and, more importantly, sufficient munitions. This defense can only bring the greatest honor to American arms. For the moment we have deferred sending reinforcements to South Carolina but eventually a large army will be formed that will greatly disturb the English in their new found possession.


Probably a reference to the material sent with Thaxter's letter of 7 Aug. ( Adams Family Correspondence , 3:388), but Dr. Plunket has not been identified.