Joseph Mathias Gérard de Rayneval to John Adams: A Translation
[dateline] Versailles, 20 June 1780
Mr. Adams would give great pleasure to Mr. de Rayneval if he would inform him if he
knows an Englishman <named> who calls himself Montagu Fox and who he is.1 Mr. de Rayneval will be infinitely obliged to Mr. Adams.
1. JA replied on 21 June that he had neither met Montagu Fox nor even heard his name (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 12), nor is there any evidence that the two men met after Fox reached
Paris on 22 June. Since Fox had not yet arrived, Rayneval's inquiry likely resulted
from reports of Fox's meetings with the French ambassador to The Hague at which he
sought support for an armed uprising by disaffected miners in Cornwall. At Paris,
Fox presented his proposals to Vergennes and Benjamin Franklin, but Franklin proved
far more skeptical than Vergennes of Fox's claim that leading members of the British
opposition, such as Charles James Fox and Lord Shelburne, supported his efforts and
that only allied financial and material support was needed to execute his plans successfully.
In fact, Montagu Fox was likely a British spy seeking to induce the allies to undertake
ambitious projects through which leading opposition figures might be discredited.
Fox's efforts ultimately failed to achieve that objective, but the failure was due
more to Vergennes' indecisiveness than anything else. For a lengthy account of Fox
and his efforts to implement his proposals, see Morris, Peacemakers, p. 112–131.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2016.