Front Page Titles (by Subject) JOHN ADAMS TO JAY. - The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, vol. 1 (1763-1781)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
JOHN ADAMS TO JAY. - John Jay, The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, vol. 1 (1763-1781) 
The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, ed. Henry P. Johnston, A.M. (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890-93). Vol. 1 (1763-1781).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
JOHN ADAMS TO JAY.
Paris, May 15th, 1780.
I shall not always stand upon ceremony nor wait for answers to letters, because useful hints may be given which would be lost if one were to wait returns of posts.
The Channel fleet is reckoned this year at from thirty to thirty-seven ships of the Line, but it is well known that they depend upon seamen to be pressed from their first West Indian fleet in order to make up this computation, without which they cannot man thirty. It is therefore of great importance that this first West India fleet should be intercepted. It will come home the latter end of June or beginning of July, certainly not before the middle of June. A ship or two of the Line with a fifty gun ship or two and five or six frigates, would have a great probability of intercepting this fleet. Is there any service upon which such a number of vessels could be better employed than in cruising pretty far in the Bay of Biscay and somewhat north of Cape Clear with this view. It is really astonishing that France and Spain should be so inattentive to the English convoys. The safest, easiest, surest way of reducing the power and the spirits of the English is to intercept their trade. It is every year exposed, yet every year escapes; by which means they get spirits to indulge their passions, money to raise millions and men to man their ships.
Pray is it not necessary to think a little of Portugal? Should not Spain, France and America too, use their influence with Portugal to shut her ports against the armed vessels of all nations at war, or else freely admit the armed vessels of all? Under her present system of neutrality as they call it, the ports of Portugal are as advantageous to England as any of her own, and more injurious to the trade of Spain and America, if not of France, while they are of no use at all to France, Spain or America. This little impotent morsel of a State ought not to do so much mischief so unjustly. If she is neutral, let her be neutral—not say she is neutral and be otherwise. Would it not be proper for Congress to evince some sensibility to the injuries the United States receive from these States, such as Denmark and Portugal? I think they should remonstrate coolly and with dignity—not go to war, nor be in a passion about it, but show that they understand their behaviour. Denmark restored Jones’s and Landais’ prizes to England without knowing why. Why would it not do to remonstrate, then prohibit any productions of Portugal from being consumed in America?
The prospect brightens in the West Indies. De Giuchen has arrived. De la Motte Piquet has defended himself very well, secured his convoys, fought the English even with inferior force and got the better. De Giuchen’s appearance dissipated all thoughts of their expedition, and threw the English Islands into great consternation. But you will see in the public prints all the news which the two Courts have received, Versailles and London. The force from Brest which sailed the 2nd and that from Cadiz, which I hope sailed as soon or sooner, will not diminish the terror and confusion of the English in America and the Islands.