Papers of John Adams, volume 13

From Tristram Dalton

From Robert R. Livingston

From Edmund Jenings, 29 May 1782 Jenings, Edmund JA


From Edmund Jenings, 29 May 1782 Jenings, Edmund Adams, John
From Edmund Jenings
Brussels May 29. 1782 Sir

Your Excellency will permit me to Congratulate you on you having before This embraced the noble Sufferer Mr Lawrens. I wish I had been a witness of the mutual pleasure you had in meeting one Another in a free Republick.1

I doubt not that your Excellency has recievd the Pamphlets, which I sent by Mr Myers, and Mr Hollis Memoirs, conveyed to you by my Friend Mr Ridley. The Copy which Mr B Hollis sent your Excellency is I am Affraid lost. I therefore transmitted to you, that, which was given to me, according to my promise.2

I see with pleasure that Mr Cerisier has taken up the affairs of Geneva as a matter interesting to all Republicks, which have any Connection with great monarchs. I Know not whether it will fall within that Gentlemans Plan to insert the Letter of Count de Vergennes to the republic of Geneva, which appeard I think in the Amsterdam Gazette last Octobr.—it is the Letter wherein it was declared, that France woud not Continue her Protection, and disdaind all Interference in their Affairs, but to avenge those, who might suffer, by the violence of the Citizens. The Letter was written in a Stile that effected me much, and as similar Things may happen, I wish the Letter was preserved in la politique Hollandais.3


I hear that my nephew is arrivd at Boston and Therefore conceive your Son is so too.4 I congratulate your Excellency Thereon.

I beleive I need not say any thing more to recommend Mr Ridley to your Excellencys Acquaintance and Confidence. I think your Excellency must have seen something of Him by this time as to induce you to think, He is worthy of your Attention.

I am with the greatest Consideration Sir your Excellencys Most Obedient Humble Servant

Edm: Jenings

RC (Adams Papers).


Matthew Ridley, who had left The Hague for Amsterdam on 21 May, returned to The Hague on the 25th, the same day, according to Ridley's journal (MHi), that Henry Laurens arrived for meetings with JA. Laurens apparently met twice with JA, first, according to Ridley's journal, on 26 May, and second probably on the 27th or 28th, prior to Laurens' departure for Amsterdam on the 29th. Laurens' purpose was to inquire as to whether he should take up his duties under his 1779 commissions to raise a loan and negotiate a treaty of amity and commerce. When JA informed Laurens that the objectives of his commissions either had been or were in the process of being accomplished, Laurens concluded that JA thought “my Attendance is not requisite, and that it could only be productive of unecessary Expence to the Public, which I neither wish nor would encourage.” He then set out to visit his family in the south of France (Laurens, Papers , 15:518, 521–522; JCC , 15:1198, 1210, 1235–1236). For JA's account of his exchange with Laurens, see his letter to Edmund Jenings, ante 28 Aug. , below; for the possibility of an otherwise unrecorded JA-Laurens meeting in early June, see JA to Jenings, 5 June, below.

Matthew Ridley dined with JA and Laurens on the 26th. In his journal, Ridley indicates that after Laurens left, “soon after dinner on account of his illness,” he and JA, “took a ride to Scheidam about 3 miles from Town.” In the course of their ride the two men apparently had a conversation that, as recorded by Ridley, sheds some light on what passed during JA's meeting with Laurens but also expands on JA's criticism of Benjamin Franklin raised in his first meeting with Ridley on 20 May (to Lafayette, 21 May, note 1, above). According to Ridley, JA told him that there was

“no great prospect of Peace—Mr L. will not go to Paris—intends as soon as possible out to America. There is no doubt that when Mr. L was in the Tower and wrote to D. F for money that he gave directions for £100 part of the Money sent for the Prisoners to England to be given Mr L. This Mr L refused and never after made any application to the Dr. There seems a general dissatisfaction with Dr. F. and no scruples are made in saying the time will come when his Character will be known—that he is an intriguing unfeeling Man—at Comte de Vergennes disposition has his parties and favorites &c. &c. Mr. A. cannot forgive him for sending out Mr de Vergennes complaint agt. Mr. Adams respecting his declaration of the necessity and Justice of the 18: March business and not giving Mr Adams Notice of it. Mr A hardly knew any thing of it untill he got the Resolve of the Thanks of Congress to him for his Behavior. I find Mr A has a good opinion of Mr. Morris.”

For Laurens' request for funds in late 1781 that was relayed through Benjamin Vaughan, Franklin's response, and Laurens' reaction, see Franklin, Papers , 36:59–60, 61; Laurens, Papers , 15:385. JA's comments regarding Franklin refer specifically to Congress' 18 March 1780 revaluation of its currency and his defense of that decision in correspondence with the Comte de Vergennes. In fact, however, he is referring to the entirety of his acrimonious exchange with Vergennes in the summer of 1780 and the role played by Franklin therein, for which see the editorial notes on The Revaluation Controversy, 16 June – 1 July 1780; and The Dispute with the Comte de Vergennes, 13–29 July 1780, vol. 9:427–430, 516–520.


The pamphlets sent by “Mr. Myers” have not been identified, but for Jenings' promise 84regarding the Memoires, see his letter of 17 Sept. 1781 to JA, at note 9 (vol. 11:488).


For the dissatisfaction with the oligarchical government of Geneva that led to unrest in 1781 and to a full-scale revolution in 1782, see vol. 12:47–49. The Comte de Vergennes' letter to the government of Geneva, in which he stated the French position and laid the groundwork for intervention, appeared in the Gazette d'Amsterdam of 19 Oct. 1781. For an English translation, see vol. 2 of the Remembrancer for 1781, p. 302–304. With the 6 May 1782 issue of Le politique hollandais, Cerisier began a series entitled “Sur la Contitution & les Troubles de la République de Geneve,” which continued in the issues of 20, 27 May; 17, 24 June; and 1, 22 July.


Jenings presumably refers to John or Matthias Bordley. CA had sailed from Bilbao, Spain, on the Cicero in early Dec. 1781 and reached Massachusetts in late Jan. 1782 (vol. 11:286; 12:324, 410).