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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 12

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0254

Author: Dana, Francis
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-04-08

From Francis Dana

[salute] My dear Sir

I had the pleasure of your favour of the 15th March this morning, in which you acknowledge the receipt of mine of Feby 10/21 and of the paper enclosed; but you say nothing of another paper which I sent you by the same post, enclosed in blank, relative to the same subject: I hope it has safely reached you notwithstanding. I have wrote to you since, on Feby. 21. O.S. And to Mr: T. on the 5/16 inst: by a private hand.1 Besides I have sent to your care by the last post but one, through different hands, three letters for our new correspondent; all of which I wou’d wish to be sent by the same opportunity. One of them you will find is marked duplicate: it is the duplicate of that which you had received before.2
The change of System in Britain (all the particulars of which I have seen as published in the English Papers) must it wou’d seem have its consequences, beneficial to that Nation, unless the folly of the leaders in the new majority shou’d prevent it, by pursuing a { 396 } course in fact not less extravagant and absurd than that of conquest. You will at once perceive that I allude to the plan of the bill proposed by the Attorny Genl: which seems to reach the professed intentions of those leaders, at least, though it is calculated to dupe them and to keep matters in the same hands.3 I have said this change might be attended with beneficial consequences, because if the wisest improvement is not made of it, the Nation cannot fail of soon experiencing the most dreadful calamities. Her distresses it is no longer possible to conceal; and these have wrought out the present change. However it may turn for them, will it not greatly advance our Interests? The whole world must now see that Nation itself proclaiming its utter despair of obtaining the great object of the war. And after this, will they think they ought to wait till Britain has acknowledged in form the Independence of the United-States, before they venture to enter into any political connections with us? Or in other words, will they risk their exclusion from great commercial benefits, by neglecting to accept of them when tendered by the United-States? The close of the War, may close these offers in some parts at least.
I am glad to hear some folks are at last occupied in very serious thoughts of doing that which they ought to have done long ago. This late change, I fancy, will spur them on. I shall readily excuse your not writing me while your time is taken up in the manner you mention. I hope you will not forget me in your leisure hours. Be not discouraged about your health. When your affairs go right it will, I presume, mend fast, especially if you will frequently ride on horseback, as you have been accustomed to do. I flatter myself I shall yet see you in all your glory at the Hotel des Etats-Unis, for I wont talk of laying my bones in this Country. I thank you for your opinion upon my proposed attempt. The difference between our situations which you have pointed out, is most certainly just. I have all along been sensible of it, and my conduct has been influenced by it.
To your question what is the reason a certain event does not take place? I can give at least one reason, a want of a proper connection. Of this I have said something in my letter No. 1. to our new Correspondent, which passes through your hands open.4 Others may be given, but I shall say nothing about them here. I agree with you that we have no particular reason to wish for Peace. I have always hoped to see this war end in a maritime war on our part: that is, that it shou’d continue for some time after the British were driven completely out of our Territories. And I have seen no reason to change { 397 } this sentiment. Of course I do not wish to see any negotiations for a Peace going on while the British possess an Inch of our Country. You may be right in your conjecture that they will evacuate it, if they are not prevented by being made prisoners in their garrisons; yet I have some doubt of this, not because I do not think it the wisest measure they cou’d take, but because, I beleive, they imagine that holding some possession there they will be enabled to acquire more favourable Terms or to negotiate with less disadvantage, and perhaps a seperate Peace. This seems now to be the object which fascinates the present Majority or its leaders, and that may bring on the surrender of the residue of their Troops. What can save them from this fate, if they are shut in by a naval superiority? France is by this time convinced that the British Barbarities have thoroughly wean’d us, and I trust will again give us that superiority, which alone we want to rid ourselves entirely of our Enemies. Her late system of war I am charmed with, not only where it immediately affects us, but elsewhere. She has deffered her conquests, except of such territories as were ravished from her last War, till the moment when no one can justly accuse her of making them with any other view than to compel a haughty and an obstinate Enemy to submit to reasonable terms of peace. If she preserves her moderation in the season of negotiation, her glory will be established on the surest foundation. I fear the affair of St: Kitts is not finished in the manner you suppose. A little time will give us the Issue of that Expedition. I am, my dear Sir, with the warmest wishes for your health and success, your much obliged Friend & humble Servt:
P.S. Please to give directions for the copy of Genl: Washingtons Miniature, and to desire Mr: T. to send on my Maps of the Low-Countries, with my others things. Master John is in high health. He does not study the language of this Country, but he is learning German which, I believe, you wou’d prefer before Russian. He says he will write you soon and give some account of his doings.5 He is still engaged with Cicero but if you think it best he will lay him aside and take up Sallust. Point de Grecs ici.6
RC (Adams Papers); docketed by CFA: “Dana Fr. 28 March OS. 1782.”; filmed at 28 March 1782, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 356.
1. Dana refers to his letter of 4 March, above. For his letter of 16 March to John Thaxter, see note 3 to the letter of the 4th.
2. In a note to JA dated 2 April (filmed at 22 March 1782, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 356), Dana most probably enclosed two copies of a letter dated 30 March and a duplicate of one dated 5 March for Robert R. Livingston (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 5:223–225, 280–283). Dana had written { 398 } to JA on 15 March (filmed at 4 March, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 356) asking him to forward a letter, which was probably the 5 March letter to Livingston.
3. For Henry Seymour Conway’s motion to end the offensive war in North America and the motion for an Anglo-American truce proposed by the attorney general in the course of the debate, see Edmund Jenings’ letter of 7 March, note 1, above. Dana would not yet have learned of the fall of the North ministry on 20 March, official news of which reached the British ambassador at St. Petersburg on 25 April (De Madariaga, Armed Neutrality of 1780, p. 388).
4. In his letter to Dana of 15 March, above, JA asked why the armed neutrality could not recognize the United States and allow its accession to the confederation. In his letter of 5 March to Livingston, Dana wrote that the lack of co-ordination between the members of the armed neutrality was due to its division into three parts: Russia, Denmark, Sweden, and Holland; Russia and Prussia; and Russia and Austria (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 5:223–225).
5. In a letter to JA of 31 March, JQA wrote that he had begun to study German. Replying on [28 April], JA approved “because I am told that Science and Literature flourish more at present in Germany than any where” (Adams Family Correspondence, 4:302–303, 317).
6. No Greek here.

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0255

Author: Digges, Thomas
Author: JW
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-04-09

From Thomas Digges

[salute] Dear Sir

I have not yet been able to see Mr L, he having left Town just before my return to it and not having got back till yesterday. Without my urging to Lord S–ne the propriety of immediately speaking to Mr L on the matter of my message to You and for releasing him from every tye here, I found His Lordship had concluded to make his approaches to that quarter, for most assuredly it is the right one, and I beleive He was purposely calld to Town about it.1 If they mean any thing sincere and direct that is the road and I hope they are about it. I could wish however I had it more in my power than I now have to say I had clearly discoverd the intentions of the new set, at least those I have conversd with viz Lord S–ne, Lord C–d–n, Genl Conway and Lord K– to be that of going to Peace with America on the avowd basis of Independence. Every voice pronounces it to be their intention, but I like a little more open declaration for so doing. Time will shew what is meant, but I own appearances at present do not please me.
There is a universal conversation and opinion got forth for a seperate peace with Holland built intirely upon the re-opening the Empress the mediation for Peace; and the new ministers have got credit with the publick for the active manner they went to work to renew it. The whole of the Cabinet seem to be well likd by the People and much praises are forth, for their vigorous exertions in the naval line in particular. America seems to be forgot, for one never { 399 } hears now about Her, save when some blunderhead holds forth for seperate Peace with America and Holland and a hearty drubbing to the French. John Bull will keep up this sort of language as long I beleive as He can roar out anything.
I have had every indulgence shewn me toward the recovery of my papers;2 but altho I have a Chart Blanch to search in the office, things are not yet so entrain in the new offices as to have things in proper order for looking over. Notwithstanding the savage practice of every Minister when he goes out of office making a sweep and taking all papers he likes with Him, I have yet the hopes of soon getting the material part of mine; and if ever after that I am a supplicant for any favour in England I hope I shall be foild. I have been more than commonly lucky with the Admy Departmt for I have with very little or no trouble got the prisoners who were brot from Mill Prison by Habeas Corpus as evidences in the case of Luke Rian and Captain McCator releasd from going back to Confinement, and got passes for the two who were tryed for their Lives and acquitted. These, together with 7 or 8 arrivd to day from the West will shortly move over, and one of them will see You.
If there are any papers in the Request or Memorial way come forth since I got the last, please to Send them by a Young Man I recommended to You from Ostend3—They are all translating and will be put into the Remembrancer with any preface or other additions You may think fit. Any thing for news paper publication will be immideately attended to if sent according to the direction left.

[salute] I am with great respect yrs

[signed] JW
1. At Plymouth on 2 April, Laurens received a 30 March letter from Benjamin Vaughan informing him that Lord Shelburne wished to see him “without delay” (Laurens, Papers, 15:475–476). In the wake of the Shelburne-Laurens meeting on 4 April rumors regarding peace were rife in the London press. For example, the Morning Herald of 10 April reported conversations between Laurens, Rockingham, Shelburne, and Fox over the terms for re-establishing the peace that included acceptance of the Declaration of Independence; an American minister at London; the evacuation of New York and Charleston; the restoration of Georgia; British retention of Florida, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Canada; a commercial treaty; Britain's admission to the American market as a most favored nation; and finally, and contradictorily, “The King of England to cede Canada and Florida to the Congress, and to pay all their debts, and they in return to recognize his writ in America and let him be thier nominal Sovereign. His Majesty to be King of America; but the purse, the sword, and the appointment to all offices, to be in Congress." Another report appeared in various newspapers, including the Morning Herald of 17 April, that Benjamin Franklin, JA, and Henry Laurens were in London negotiating a peace treaty. This led the General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer of 17 April to declare that the report was not only false, Laurens having left London, but { 400 } that "our readers may rely on the following assurance, that without admitting the Independency of America, the Commissioners from Congress in Europe cannot even open a negociation.”
2. Digges was arrested and his papers seized in May 1781, presumably as a consequence of his known service to the American cause and his association with John Trumbull who was arrested in Nov. 1780 (vol. 10: 366; Digges, Letters, p. li-lii).
3. Probably Jacob Sarley.
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.