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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 5


Docno: ADMS-06-05-02-0062

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1777-03-18

To James Warren

[salute] My dear sir

I had this Morning the Pleasure of your Favour of Feb. 22. by the Post. This is the first Letter from you Since I left you.
You are anxious to know, what Expectations are to be entertained of foreign Aid. I wish, Sir, it was in my Power to communicate to you, the little that I know of this Matter. But I am under Such Injunctions and Engagements to communicate nothing relative to foreign Affairs that I ought not to do it: and if I was at Liberty, Such is the Risque of Letters by the Post, or any other Conveyance, that it would be imprudent. Thus much I may Say, that We have Letters from Dr Franklin and Mr. Deane; both agree that every Thing is as they could wish, but the Dr had but just arrived, had not been to Paris, and therefore could know nothing of the Cabinet. The noted Dr Williamson1 is arrived full of encouraging Matter, but what Confidence is to be put in him, or what Dependence to be had on his Intelligence I know not. Franklin Deane and Williamson all agree in Opinion that a War will2 take Place. The Reception that is given to our Privateers and Merchantmen, in every Part of the French Dominions, is decisively encouraging. Weaks3 who carried the Dr, took two Prizes. Persons enough offered to purchase them, without Condemnation or Tryal, and to run the Risque of the Illegality of it. { 115 } Perhaps they may be ransomed. Thus much you may depend on, that you may have any Thing, that France affords, in the Way of Manufactures, Merchandize or Warlike Stores, for Sending for it. I can go no further as yet. Congress has done as much as they ought to do and more than I thought they ought to have done, before they did it.
I will hazard a prophecy for once, and it is this that there will as certainly, be a general War in Europe, as there will be a Kingdom of France or Spain. How Soon it will be, I wont precisely determine but I have no more doubt that it will be within a Year to come than I have that it will be at all.
Enclosed you have a Newspaper,4 which when you have read I wish you would send to the foot of Penn's Hill. I am my Friend yours &c.
RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); docketed: “Mr J A: Lettr March 18. 1777”; LbC ( (Adams Papers)).
1. Silas Deane was certain that Dr. Hugh Williamson of Pennsylvania (1735–1819) was a spy for the British, who left France to report regularly to Lord North. Several of Deane's letters to the Committee of Secret Correspondence warned Americans that Williamson would betray the American cause. Deane's charges had no foundation. Actually Williamson had been a loyal supporter of the cause from the beginning. He had studied medicine abroad and was in England and France soliciting funds for an academy in Delaware. The day after JA wrote, the congress named a committee to examine Williamson's loyalty in the light of the latest letter from Deane. Williamson had returned to the United States at the end of 1776 and soon entered into trade in North Carolina. Later he was a member of the congress and of the Federal Convention from that state (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:153, 198, 214; JCC, 7:186; DAB).
2. The word “certainly” is crossed out here in JA's Letterbook.
3. Capt. Lambert Wickes of the Reprisal (William Bell Clark, Lambert Wickes: Sea Raider and Diplomat, New Haven, 1932, p. 89).
4. Not found.

Docno: ADMS-06-05-02-0063

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1777-03-18

To James Warren

[salute] My dear Sir

There is a Part of your Letter of 22 of Feb. which I did not remark upon in a Letter I wrote this Afternoon and Sent to the Post Office. It relates to our Navy, a Subject which has ever lain near my Heart. It is of the last and highest Importance to Us.
If there has been any Negligence, in the marine Department, I am Sorry for it: I have heard continual Complaints for a great while: But whether the Delays in this Business are owing to Neglect, any where, or to unavoidable Obstructions I dont know.
There is a Committee of Congress intituled “The Marine { 116 } Committee.” It consists of one Member from each State. Mr Hancock is President of it. The other Gentlemen are Whipple, Ellery, Wolcott, Lewis, Sergeant, Morris, Chase, R. H. Lee, Bourke, Middleton, Brownson.1 Three Persons, have been lately appointed out of Congress, with ample Salaries, I believe fifteen hundred dollars a Year each, who are to bend their whole Attention to it, and Spend their whole Time in it. These are Hopkinson, lately a Member of Congress from New Jersy, Nixon, a Merchant of this City, and Wharton an emminent Shipwright.2 If such a Committee with such Assistance cannot conduct, the small Affairs of our Navy it is a Pitty. If the Affairs of the War Office did not take up every Moment of my Time, when I am out of Congress, and sometimes when I ought to be in it, I would make it my Business to search, this marine Affair to the Bottom.
Who is appointed, to build the new Frygate and Seventy four Gun ship I know not. If it is Mr Cushing I am Sorry for it, because I dont think his Capacity, his Connections, or his Credit in Business Suitable for that Appointment. Besides that his avocations as Judge of Probate, first Justice of the Superiour Court and Councillor, render it impossible for him to attend it as he ought, if he was in all other Respects qualified. I write this freely and I dont care a farthing if it gets into a New York Newspaper, because it is an Opinion I avow and will abide by.
There must be a free Communication of Sentiment upon public Affairs or they will Suffer. I wish you had written the Anecdotes. We have no Returns from the Navy. We know not whether they are manned or what they wait for. Can they be manned?
LbC (Adams Papers). This letter may not have been sent, for it lacks the usual notation “Sent.” The criticism of William Cushing might be a reason for not posting it.
1. On 19 March, Abraham Clark replaced Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant as the Marine Committee member from New Jersey (JCC, 7:186). Delaware seems not to have had a place on the committee at this time.
2. John Nixon and John Wharton were appointed 13 Nov. 1776 and Francis Hopkinson on the 18th (same, 6:946, 958).
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.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/