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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 12

This note contained in document ADMS-06-12-02-0178
3. Here and in his letter of 7 March, below, Jenings refers to the momentous debates on the American war that occurred in the House of Commons on 22 and 27 February. They revealed that the North ministry had lost the support of the country gentlemen, the main pillar of its parliamentary majority for its American policy. The ministry lingered until 20 March, when Lord North resigned and was replaced by the Marquis of Rockingham (Alan Valentine, Lord North, 2 vols., Norman, Okla., 1967, 2:301–316).
The debate that began on 22 Feb. and extended into the early morning of the 23d was over a motion by Henry Seymour Conway to inform George III that the war in America could “no longer be pursued for the impracticable purpose of reducing the inhabitants of that country to obedience by force” and that all efforts be made to bring about a reconciliation “with the revolted colonies.” Conway’s motion was defeated 194 to 193, but it was a clear victory for the opposition and Charles James Fox immediately arose to promise that the question would be raised again and to predict correctly that “it would then be carried.”
Jenings’ account reports the exchange between Conway and Welbore Ellis, Lord George Germaine’s replacement as American secretary, as well as that between Lord North and Isaac Barré. According to David Hartley, { 289 } it was Conway’s statement, “which was supposed to allude to Mr. Adams, and some friends of his in London,” that led to Thomas Digges’ mission to the Netherlands to meet with JA (Franklin, Papers, 36:684–685; from Thomas Digges, [20 March], below). After the vote on Conway’s motion, Barré harshly criticized North for giving inadequate notice for the opening of the budget. North responded that in exchanges between Barré and himself, Barré habitually used uncivil, brutal, and insolent language. This led to a spirited debate and ultimately to North’s apology (Parliamentary Hist., 22:1028–1051).
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, 2018.