A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 7

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0125-0002

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-11-04

C. W. F. Dumas to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

[salute] Gentlemen

My last was of yesterday. I have just returned from seeing our friend and, although this letter cannot be mailed today, take the opportunity to give you an account of our conversation while it is still fresh in my mind.
The gentlemen from Amsterdam returned with strong instructions from their constituents. This perhaps will result in a third address, even more serious than the previous ones. If the evasions continue, Amsterdam will use other means, of which they could not yet tell me. The matter of the convoys will be brought up next week. The day before yesterday Sir Joseph Yorke presented a memorandum,1 more moderate in { 192 } form, but still insidious in content, from his Court: 1. to request commissioners with whom he could confer in order to reach an agreement on the interpretation of the treaties regarding prohibited goods; 2. to declare his Court's desire that the Republic not grant the convoys in question since it cannot allow the said goods to pass. He will find formidable adversaries in those from Amsterdam who are strongly resolved in the absolute negative on these two points. In particular, they have already informed a high personage and the Grand Pensionary of this fact. The irritation with the English is beginning to reach even some members of the nobility.
The project, as you know, has been drawn up consistent with some additions and fundamental changes of which you are also aware. It is now in the hands of the Burgomasters who will examine the whole and then deliver a copy to me for transmission to you, gentlemen, for your own examination, after which your observations can be returned to them through me.
He repeated to me, on behalf of the Burgomasters, that they have no intention to make future relations dependent upon Great Britain's permission, but rather they desire that Their High Mightinesses be able, with the passage of time, to pursue a more favorable course than they can at present.2 They thought that this circumstance should not be concealed from you any more then their present situation, and their wishes and expectation that you will concur in the demarches they are able to make for their realization.
I cannot give you, gentlemen, a clearer picture than this. We are dealing with a minority which has this great advantage over the British party: if this state cannot declare itself your friend, it cannot be your enemy either, because of the unanimity required by the Constitution. This alone is of great importance and should encourage us to support and strengthen this minority.
Each time I see our friend, he reminds me not to forget to communicate any favorable news that I might receive of events in America. He makes too good a use of such information for me to forget, when and if it is within my power.
The two letters that I owe to the kindness of Mr. A. Lee, have been inserted in the Gazette de Leyde.3 The Courier du Bas-Rhine has given a very fine tribute to Mr. Joseph Reed, Member of the very honorable Congress, which merits your attention.4 I would like to send you this issue, No. 88, p. 764, but it is the only copy I have and must be enclosed in a packet for Congress.
I am, with very great respect, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] Dumas
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “a Leurs Excellences Messieurs les Plénipotentiaires des Etats-Unis de l'Amérique a Passy.”
1. This memorial is printed in the Annual Register for 1779 (p. 421) under the date of 22 Nov. Dumas gives an accurate account of its tone and substance.
{ 193 }
2. In the French text the preceding ten words were interlined to replace a passage that was heavily canceled and cannot now be determined.
3. For the letters sent by Arthur Lee, see Dumas' letter of 30 Oct. (above).
4. This issue of the Courier du Bas-Rhin has not been found and thus it is impossible to identify the item to which Dumas refers. The editor's comment probably concerned Joseph Reed's refusal of a bribe offered by George Johnstone, member of the Carlisle Commission, through the agency of Elizabeth Ferguson. Reed described the bribe attempt and his rejection of it in a written statement that he supplied to William Henry Drayton and which Drayton included in his letter of 18 July to the members of the Carlisle Commission (Smith, ed., Letters of Delegates, 10:295–302, and note 8, p. 303). Drayton's letter was widely printed in America and Europe (Boston Gazette, 10 Aug.; London Chronicle, 1–3 Sept.; Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Amérique, vol. 12, “Lettres,” cahier 58, p. cxcix–cciii).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0126

Author: Gilbank, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-11-04

John Gilbank to the Commissioners

[salute] May it please Your Excellency's

I took the liberty some time ago to write to your Excellency's informing you of the Situation in which I found myself,1 and requesting to be supplied with Money for necessary Expences in the manner in my Letter mentioned or otherwise as should seem meet.2
Not having since that time been favoured with any Answer, I am under the necessity of applying to Your Excellency's again to be informed, by your Authority, of your resolution in that Behalf; At the same time scarce doubting but that it will be in my favour, When you shall consider that, a negative resolve will preclude me from availing myself of the Opportunity which offers of going to America, and that without a proper supply it will be impossible for me to fulfill my Duty to the Congress.
Your Excellency's cannot I flatter myself think my request unreasonable when you shall consider the Contents of my former letter and that not only my stay here has been unavoidable but that it will be requisite to provide several things for a Sea voyage.
Your Excellency's will likewise rest assured that had it been possible to have avoided an Application of this Kind it wou'd have been a matter productive of the highest satisfaction to me, as never in my Life did I perceive my feelings so much hurt as to be under the necessity of making it. But precluded, by my Attachment to the Cause of America, from receiving Support or protection from my Family; What must I do? Application to private Gentlemen is equally disagreable to me as wou'd be a pistol Ball thro' the head, and I wou'd as soon make use of the one as the other; besides I believe every American Gentleman in Europe has occasion enough for what he is possessed of in this part of the World. To whom then must I apply, hard as the task is, but those from whom I have some right to <look up to> expect protection? If I { 194 } had not been unlucky enough to have been again taken in my last Attempt to go to America, I had not needed any Supplies; nor have I ever, notwithstanding the many and large Sums I have unavoidably expended, made any Application till I was obliged to it.
I flatter myself your Excellency's will order me the Supply I request, but above all I intreat to be honoured with your resolution thereon in as short a time as the Post will permit, as I received a letter yesterday which informs me the Ship will be ready in fifteen days.
I beg pardon of Your Excellency's for troubling you so long but hope you will think the uneasiness of Mind I feel arising from my Mortifying situation, a sufficient reason for taking that Liberty. I have the honour to be Your Excellency's most obedient humble Servant
[signed] J. Gilbank
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed: “M. Gilbank”; and in another hand: “Gillbank no Date.” The reason for the notation “no Date” remains obscure.
1. John Gilbank, a 1st lieutenant in the 4th South Carolina Artillery Regiment, had been captured three times after going on leave for reasons of health in 1777. He ultimately sailed for America on the General Livingston and arrived at Yorktown, Va., on 22 July 1779 (Heitman, Register Continental Army, p. 247; Gilbank to the president of the congress, 23 July 1779, PCC, No. 78, X, f. 149–150). His letter of 6 Oct. has not been found, but it was the first of ten letters to the Commissioners, the last dated 21 Jan. 1779. For the Commissioners' response to Gilbank's request, see their letter of 10 Nov. (below).
2. Suitable, fit, or proper (OED).
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.