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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 6

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0289

Author: Ross, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-08-18

John Ross to the Commissioners

[salute] Honble. Gentlemen

I did myself the honour to Address You, on the 16th and 23d. Ultimo1 —Not on business of my own but that which Regards the United States, and consistent with the common Rule of Regularity, claimed an Answer long since.
Mr. Delavile holder of Mr. Ceronio's2 bills applyed to me again by letter, on last Saturday, and the bills being drawn, on public Account, shall be glad to know what Answer am to give the Gentleman.
The United States Stand (in Accounts here) indebted for a large ballance to the house of W[illing] M[orris]: and Co.—which I have represented to you and applyed for to enable me to do something towards their private concerns—but no Answer to this, neither.
The Officers of the Crown in this place, having lately, as I understand, made Sale of all the Furniture, wireing Apparel, and other effects taken out of the house of the late Mr. Thomas Morris, it is incumbent on me, in Name of Robert Morris Esqr. to Notifye Same to Mr. Lee Commercial Agent, through the Honble. Commissioners, under whose Sanctions he represents to have Acted, that he may not plead ignorance of those consequence's, which his conduct, even with the Authority he was possessed of, has incurred to the Credit, property, and reputation of Men, injured, and insulted by the Exercise of his Power's.
It gives me pain, I shoud be compeled, to make this a Subject of correspondence so long. Nevertheless, Indifferent and trifleing as the business and Credit of W[illing]: M[orris] and Co. may appear to your Honors or to the Man of business acting as Commercial Agent, and however much the Powers am possesed of, have been despised and rejected by the Honble. Gentlemen; who gave Sanction to Mr. Lee's assumed exercise of a dareing unpresidented Power, I hold myself justifiable to communicate what occurrs, to the prejudice of my absent friends in this business, untill some other Person are invested with such power's as merit the Attention of the Representatives of America.3 I have the honour to be with all due respect Honble. Gentlemen Your very obedient Serv.
[signed] Jno. Ross Esq.
RC (MH-H: Lee Papers); docketed, not by JA: “August 18th. 1778.”
{ 380 }
1. Not found.
2. Mr. Delavile remains unidentified, but the bills were those of Joseph Ceronio of Genoa, who had been the agent of Willing, Morris, & Co. at Cape Francois since at least May 1776 (Papers of Robert Morris, ed. E. James Ferguson, Pittsburgh, 1973–, 1:172).
3. A dispute over the papers of Thomas Morris that had begun with his death on 31 Jan. accounts for the tone and contents of Ross' letter. Because of the operation of the droit d'aubaine, the Commissioners, and Ross at the time, thought it advisable to get an order from the French government to take possession of Morris' papers. Because William Lee and Morris had held a joint appointment to manage American commercial affairs in Europe, Lee, after obtaining the French order, went to Nantes to receive the papers and separate the portion concerning public business from that relating to Willing, Morris, & Co., with which both Morris and Ross were associated. Ross and Silas Deane, with whom Lee exchanged numerous letters on the matter, were apprehensive about the possible examination of the Willing, Morris & Co. papers by Lee; both would have preferred to have Ross authorized to make whatever inventory was needed. When Lee reached Nantes their fears were realized, for he went through all the papers and, claiming that Ross' refusal to cooperate made any division impossible, sealed the trunk containing the papers and sent it to Paris, where, after some disagreement, it was placed under the care of Benjamin Franklin. Ross was probably informed that it could not be delivered to him without proper authorization. On 4 Sept., at the request of Robert Morris, the congress ordered the Commissioners to deliver the trunk to Morris or his agent—in this case almost certainly John Ross (Deane Papers, 2:344–346 and passim; in particular see Ross' letter to Deane of 3 March and Franklin's to Ross, apparently not sent, of 26 April; JCC, 12:879). For another letter on the same subject and in essentially the same tone, see Ross to the Commissioners, 8 Oct. (ViU: Lee Papers).

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0290

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: MacCreery, William
Date: 1778-08-19

To William MacCreery

[salute] Sir

I thank you for your favour of the 8th. I believe my Letters to you, were carried faithfully enough. The secret is that I write my Letters, at the time they are dated, but they are frequently not copied and sent untill several days after.1 This arises from a Multiplicity of Business and of Pleasure, as it is called. It is unavoidable in our situation, but it is to me the most irksome Part of our Duties.
Your Account of the Embarrassment of Trade is new to me and very interesting, but there will be soon an End to it. By the Treaty Congress, have Authority to appoint Consulls, whose Duty and Jurisdiction it is to decide Controversies and do Justice. I hope they will soon make such appointments. In the Mean Time however, the Commissioners here, are ready at all times to apply to the Court for Redress of Greivances, in which, I have no doubt they would have success. When there is any Complain the best Way is to state it in Writing to the Commissioners in cool, decent and dispassionate Language, and the Commissioners will { 381 } immediately lay it before his Majesty, or his Ministers, and We have hither to found every appearance of a sincere desire, to do Justice and give satisfaction.
It is very unfortunate that there is no Newspaper, or other public Channell through which, Intelligence, can by Us be Speedily communicated to every Part of this Kingdom. But We have not commonly, Intelligence of the Sailing of any naval Armament from England Sooner, than the Merchants have it in the sea Ports. If We had for my Part I would readily write <all Night?> to inform the American Merchants of it. Nil Americanum a me alienum puto.2 Pardon me.
I Suppose the Interest of your Loan office Certificates is to be paid here. But it cannot be done untill We have Bills of Exchange drawn for it by the Loan officer in America, who issued the Certificate.
We are all Impatience to hear from America. Nothing new at Versailles or Paris not even at the Palais Royal, except Bruits[?] of Victories in America which come from Nobody and from No where. I am &c.
1. JA was keeping at this time no less than three Letterbooks, two of which, Nos. 4 and 6 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel Nos. 92 and 94), were almost entirely devoted to the affairs of the Commissioners. No. 5 (Reel No. 93), from which the present letter is taken, was chiefly for personal correspondence.
2. I consider nothing American unsuitable for me.
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.