Papers of John Adams, volume 14

From Elkanah Watson Jr., 30 April 1783 Watson, Elkanah Jr. Adams, John
From Elkanah Watson Jr.
Sir London 30th April 1783.

If a disinterested wish to contribute to the Glory & happiness of America will sufficiently plead my excuse, for the liberty I take in writing your Excellency, I claim no other advocate. Doubtless Sir you are not unacquainted with the spirit of Emigration that so generally prevails throughout England, Ireland & Scotland, but more particularly in this City; every Vessel is crouded with passengers, & many intire wealthy families. The enthusiasm is so great, that mechanics of every kind would croud over in a torrent, if the Congress should favor emigrations by allowing a fix'd bounty to every Captain who takes over a useful able body'd mechanic, incapable of paying his passage: by this means it is difficult to hazard a conjecture, how 463 image 464effectual our principal object of cultivating manufactures would succeed especially as its clearly evident that whatever steps Government may take to check them will only redouble their ardour, & determine many hundreds to break through the barrier, who probably never would have thought of going before an obstacle was thrown in the way. Sailors are subjects equally important to our rising republic, & by a trifling bounty upon the extra number of a ship's Crew, we might easily introduce several hundred native Americans now starving in the streets of this city for the want of employment, & anxious to get home: every day Since my arrival many have offer'd to work their passages; Besides I find even the English sailors have a general wish to enroll themselves under our stripes.

I have the honor to be respectfully / Your Excellency’s most Obdt hble St

E. Watson Jr.

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency / John Adams Esqr.

To Francis Dana, 1 May 1783 Adams, John Dana, Francis
To Francis Dana
Sir Paris May 1. 17831

I have recd your Favour of the 16 of March,2 and in answer to it, I do assure you that I do not intend to decline taking a Seat in Congress, if any State in the Confederation shall think it worth while to offer me one. I am grown very ambitious of being a Limb of that Sovereign. I had rather be Master than Servant, upon the Same Principle that Men Swear at High Gate never to kiss the Maid, when they may kiss the Mistress.—3 I should be very happy to set along side of you upon one of those Seats, and rise up now and then and tell Stories of our Peregrinations, and of the Robbers We have met upon the high Way.— But you must not quit, till you have made your Treaty.

I beg you would consider what I write to you as hints, not as Advice,: the Reasons You give for not taking Some that I gave you are very conclusive and had not occured to me.— The first Vessells will I hope bring you Elucidations upon those Points.

My Son is arrived at the Hague, in good Health, but the Length of his Journey has given me much Uneasiness. Be so good as to let me know how much I am in your Debt on his Account. I am afraid he must have Spent a great deal of Money on the Road. He has not yet Sent me an Account.4


Mr Hartley is to finish with Us, and We are making Preparations but cannot Say how much Time will be necessary. They talk of a Congress and Mediation and Mr Markoff is coming, but there is no need of either on our Affairs, yet We may be invited to join it, and who would not be ambitious of setting in such a Council of the Cælestials? or rather who would not be curious to “know by what Sort of Men this World is governed.!”5

With great Esteem I have the Honour to be / &c

J. Adams

RC (MHi:Dana Family Papers); addressed: “A Monsieur / Monsr. Francis Dana / à / St. Petersbourg—”; internal address: “Mr Dana.”; endorsed: “Mr: Jno: Adams's Letter / Dated May 1st. 1783. / recd: April 21st.— O.S. / Requestg: an Account of my advances / for his Son.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 108.


Dana apparently received this letter on or about 1 June, for which see his letter of [1 June] (Adams Papers; filmed at 21 May). Evidently it is JA's last extant letter to Dana before Dana sailed from Kronstadt on 8 Sept. (from Dana, 29 Sept., Adams Papers). This is curious in view of the content of Dana's later letters, particularly those of [9], [12], and [15 May], all below, but may be explained by Dana's injunction in his letter of [9 May] to “send no more Letters on to me here.”


[27 March], above.


For the origins of this oath taken in the public houses of Highgate, which means that one would not drink small beer when stronger was available, see Robert Bell, ed., Ancient Poems, Ballads and Songs of the Peasantry of England, London, 1857, p. 188–191.


JQA wrote to JA on 6 May ( AFC , 5:150–151). There he indicated that he had obtained, at Stockholm and Hamburg, a total of approximately 2,050 guilders. JQA also indicated that he planned to write to Francis Dana, which he did on the 12th (MHi:Photostat Coll.). In that letter he informed Dana of the money obtained en route to The Hague and that upon his arrival Dumas had delivered Dana's letter to him of [7 Feb.] (Adams Papers, filmed at 27 Jan.). He also indicated his disposition of the letters entrusted to him by Dana, two of which were letters to JA and Robert R. Livingston, for which see vol. 13:547–551. Finally, he enclosed a list of roads from St. Petersburg to Stockholm to assist Dana when he set out for his return to America.


For Arkady Markov, see Dumas’ letter of 3 April, and note 4, above; for an invitation to join the mediation, see Lafayette's 12 May letter to the American Peace Commissioners, below; and for JA's previous use of the words in quotation marks ending the paragraph, see the final paragraph of his 2 July 1782 letter to Elbridge Gerry (vol. 13:147).