Online Library of Liberty

A collection of scholarly works about individual liberty and free markets. A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.

Advanced Search

John Adams, The Works of John Adams, vol. 7 (Letters and State Papers 1777-1782) [1852]

1431.07_tp
Title Page
1431.07_toc
Original Table of Contents or First Page

Edition used:

John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations, by his Grandson Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1856). 10 volumes. Vol. 7. http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2105

Available in the following formats:
Facsimile PDF 35.7 MB This is a facsimile or image-based PDF made from scans of the original book.
MARC Record 458 Bytes MAchine-Readable Cataloging record.
Kindle 1.12 MB This is an E-book formatted for Amazon Kindle devices.
EBook PDF 2.32 MB This text-based PDF or EBook was created from the HTML version of this book and is part of the Portable Library of Liberty.
HTML 2.11 MB This version has been converted from the original text. Every effort has been taken to translate the unique features of the printed book into the HTML medium.

About this Title:

A 10 volume collection of Adams’ most important writings, letters, and state papers, edited by his grandson. Vol. 7 contains letters and state papers from 1777 to 1782.

Copyright information:

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.

Table of Contents:

Edition: current; Page: [i]
THE WORKS of JOHN ADAMS.
Edition: current; Page: [ii]

[Editor: illegible word]

From my Chamber in Worcester Sept.r 1st: 1755

John Adams.

Phyladelphia June 1775

John Adams.

Philadelphia June 26 1797

John Adams.

Quincy April 15 1815

John Adams.

J. Adams.

Edition: current; Page: [iii]
THE WORKS of JOHN ADAMS, SECOND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: with A LIFE OF THE AUTHOR, NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS,
by HIS GRANDSON CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.
VOL. VII.
BOSTON:
LITTLE, BROWN AND COMPANY.
1852.
Edition: current; Page: [iv]

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1852, by Charles C. Little and James Brown, in the Clerk’s office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.

riverside—cambridge:

stereotyped and printed by

h. o. houghton and company.

Edition: current; Page: [v]

CONTENTS OF VOLUME VII.

  • Introductory Note . . . . . . . page 3
  • 1777. November 28. The President of Congress to John Adams . 5
  • December 3. The President of Congress to John Adams . 5
  • 3. The Committee of Foreign Affairs to John Adams . . . . . . 6
  • 23. To the President of Congress . . . 7
  • 24. To the Committee of Foreign Affairs . . 8
  • 27. Baron de Kalb to John Adams . . . 9
  • 27. Baron de Kalb to the Comte de Broglie . . 9
  • 27. Baron de Kalb to M. Moreau . . . 9
  • 1778. January 9. The Marquis de Lafayette to John Adams . 10
  • 22. The President of Congress to John Adams . 11
  • February 3. To the Marquis de Lafayette . . . 12
  • May 14. The Commissioners to M. De Sartine . . 12
  • 24. To the Committee of Commerce . . . 14
  • June 6. M. de Sartine to the Commissioners . . 15
  • 15. The Commissioners to M. de Sartine . . 16
  • July 20. The Commissioners to the President of Congress 18
  • 27. To the President of Congress . . . 21
  • 29. The Commissioners to the Committee of Foreign Affairs . . . . . . 22 Edition: current; Page: [vi]
  • 29. M. de Sartine to the Commissioners . . 23
  • August 13. The Commissioners to M. de Sartine . . 23
  • 28. The Commissioners to Count de Vergennes . . 25
  • September 10. The Commissioners to M. de Beaumarchais . 28
  • 10. The Commissioners to Count de Vergennes . 29
  • 15. To M. le Ray de Chaumont . . . . 31
  • 18. M. le Ray de Chaumont to John Adams . . 32
  • 16. M. de Sartine to the Commissioners . . 33
  • 17. The Commissioners to M. de Sartine . . 34
  • 17. The Commissioners to the President of Congress 37
  • 20. The Commissioners to the American Prisoners in Great Britain . . . . . 40
  • 20. To Ralph Izard . . . . . 42
  • 22. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . 43
  • 24. Ralph Izard to John Adams . . . . 44
  • 25. To Ralph Izard . . . . . . 46
  • 26. Benjamin Franklin to John Adams . . . 48
  • 26. The Commissioners to William Lee . . 49
  • 28. Ralph Izard to John Adams . . . . 50
  • 30. The Commissioners to John Ross . . . 51
  • October 1. The Commissioners to Count de Vergennes . 52
  • 2. To Ralph Izard . . . . . . 53
  • 6. Arthur Lee to John Adams . . . . 56
  • 10. To Arthur Lee . . . . . . 56
  • 12. Arthur Lee to John Adams . . . . 58
  • 24. M. Genet to John Adams . . . . 59
  • 28. The Committee of Foreign Affairs to John Adams 60
  • 29. M. Genet to John Adams . . . . 61
  • 30. The Commissioners to M. de Sartine . . 63
  • November 4. The Commissioners to M. de Schweighauser . 65
  • 7. The Commissioners to the President of Congress 66
  • 12. The Commissioners to M. de Sartine . . 68 Edition: current; Page: [vii]
  • 12. The Commissioners to Count de Vergennes . 70
  • December 3. To the President of Congress . . . 70
  • 7. The Commissioners to Dr. Price . . . 71
  • 29. The Commissioners to John Ross . . . 72
  • 1779. January 1. The Commissioners to Count de Vergennes . 72
  • 26. The Commissioners to John Lloyd and Others . 77
  • February 11. To Count de Vergennes . . . . 79
  • 13. Count de Vergennes to John Adams . . 80
  • 13. To the Committee of Foreign Affairs . . 81
  • 16. To M. de Sartine . . . . . 82
  • 16. To Count de Vergennes . . . . 82
  • 21. Count de Vergennes to John Adams . . 83
  • 21. To the Marquis de Lafayette . . . 84
  • 27. To Count de Vergennes . . . . 86
  • 27. To the President of Congress . . . 86
  • 28. M. de Sartine to John Adams . . . 88
  • April 3. Benjamin Franklin to John Adams . . . 89
  • 9. Marquis de Lafayette to John Adams . . 90
  • 13. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . 91
  • 21. Benjamin Franklin to John Adams . . 92
  • 24. The Same to the Same . . . . 93
  • 20. M. de Sartine to B. Franklin (Inclosed) . . 94
  • June 5. Arthur Lee to John Adams . . . . 94
  • 9. To Arthur Lee . . . . . . 95
  • August 3. To the President of Congress . . . 97
  • 4. To the President of Congress . . . 99
  • September 10. To the President of Congress . . . 110
  • 19. To the Treasury Board . . . . 111
  • 29. The Chevalier de la Luzerne to John Adams . 115
  • 29. The Chevalier de la Luzerne to Captain Chavagnes . . . . . . 115 Edition: current; Page: [viii]
  • 29. M. de Marbois to John Adams . . . 116
  • October 6. To M. de Sartine . . . . . 117
  • 17. To M. de la Luzerne . . . . . 117
  • 17. To M. de Marbois . . . . . 118
  • 20. The President of Congress to John Adams . 119
  • November 4. To the President of Congress . . . 120
  • 1780. February 15. To the President of Congress . . . 121
  • 18. To the Marquis de Lafayette . . . 123
  • 18. To M. Genet . . . . . . 124
  • 19. Marquis de Lafayette to John Adams . . 125
  • 20. M. Genet to John Adams . . . . 126
  • 20. To the President of Congress . . . 127
  • 24. To M. Genet . . . . . . 129
  • 28. To General Knox . . . . . 129
  • March 8. To Captain Landais . . . . . 130
  • 12. To the President of Congress . . . 131
  • 15. Arthur Lee to John Adams . . . . 133
  • 17. William Lee to John Adams . . . . 134
  • 24. To the President of Congress . . . 136
  • 26. Arthur Lee to John Adams . . . . 138
  • 30. To the President of Congress . . . 138
  • 30. Count de Vergennes to John Adams . . 139
  • 30. To Count de Vergennes . . . . 140
  • 30. William Lee to John Adams . . . . 140
  • 31. To Arthur Lee . . . . . . 142
  • April 2. To William Lee . . . . . . 143
  • 8. To W. Carmichael . . . . . 144
  • 14. T. Digges to John Adams . . . . 146
  • 18. To the President of Congress . . . 148
  • 22. William Carmichael to John Adams . . 152
  • 25. To Count de Vergennes . . . . 154 Edition: current; Page: [ix]
  • 26. John Jay to John Adams . . . 154
  • 29. To M. Genet. . . . . . 155
  • 30. Count de Vergennes to John Adams . . 157
  • W. Carmichael to John Adams . . . 157
  • May 2. T. Digges to John Adams . . . . 158
  • 3. To M. Genet . . . . . . 159
  • 8. M. Genet to John Adams . . . . 159
  • 9. To M. Genet . . . . . . 160
  • 10. Court de Vergennes to John Adams . . 162
  • 11. Court de Vergennes to John Adams . . 162
  • 12. To W. Carmichael . . . . . 162
  • 12. To Count de Vergennes . . . . 164
  • 13. To John Jay . . . . . . 166
  • 13. To T. Digges . . . . . . 167
  • 15. To John Jay . . . . . . 169
  • 15. To M. Genet . . . . . . 170
  • 17. M. Genet to John Adams . . . . 172
  • 17. To M. Genet . . . . . . 172
  • 19. To the Count de Vergennes . . . . 176
  • 24. Count de Vergennes to John Adams . . 177
  • 25. To Arthur Lee . . . . . . 177
  • 26. M. Genet to John Adams . . . . 179
  • 31. M. Genet to John Adams . . . . . 179
  • June 2. To the President of Congress . . . 180
  • 16. To Count de Vergennes . . . . 187
  • Richard Cranch to John Adams (Extract Inclosed) 187
  • 20. To Count de Vergennes . . . . 188
  • Elbridge Gerry to John Adams (Extract Inclosed) 188
  • 21. Count de Vergennes to John Adams . . 190
  • 22. To Count de Vergennes . . . . 193
  • 22. To Count de Vergennes . . . . 193
  • 23. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . . 203 Edition: current; Page: [x]
  • 24. To Thomas Digges . . . . . 203
  • Queries by B. Franklin . . . . 204
  • 26. Answers to the Queries . . . . 205
  • 26. To the President of Congress . . . 207
  • 29. To the President of Congress . . . 208
  • 29. To Thomas Jefferson . . . . 210
  • 29. To B. Franklin . . . . . 211
  • 30. Count de Vergennes to John Adams . . 212
  • July 1. To Count de Vergennes . . . . 213
  • 2. To Count de Vergennes . . . . 214
  • Benjamin Rush to John Adams (Extract Inclosed) 214
  • 8. William Lee to John Adams . . . . 215
  • 11. The Committee of Foreign Affairs to John Adams 217
  • 12. The Committee of Foreign Affairs to John Adams 218
  • 11. (P. S.) August 1. The Committee of Foreign Affairs to John Adams . . . . 218
  • 13. To Count de Vergennes . . . . 218
  • 17. David Hartley to John Adams . . . 227
  • 17. To Count de Vergennes . . . . 228
  • 20. To William Lee . . . . . . 331
  • 20. Count de Vergennes to John Adams . . 232
  • 21. To Count de Vergennes . . . . 233
  • 23. To the President of Congress . . . 233
  • 25. Count de Vergennes to John Adams . . 235
  • Observations on Mr. Adams’s Letter of 17th July, 1780 . . . . . . 236
  • 27. To Count de Vergennes . . . . 241
  • 29. Count de Vergennes to John Adams . . 243
  • 30. The President of Congress to John Adams . 243
  • August 14. To the President of Congress . . . 244
  • 14. David Hartley to John Adams . . . 246
  • 17. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . 247 Edition: current; Page: [xi]
  • September 5. To John Luzac . . . . . . 248
  • 5. To the President of Congress . . . 249
  • 8. Francis Dana to John Adams . . . 251
  • 12. To David Hartley . . . . . 253
  • 14. John Luzac to John Adams . . . . 253
  • 15. To John Luzac . . . . . . 255
  • 16. To the President of Congress . . . 256
  • 19. To the President of Congress . . . 258
  • 22. To M. Van Vollenhoven . . . . 260
  • 25. From M. Van Blomberg . . . . 261
  • 26. From M. Van Blomberg . . . . 261
  • 29. From M. Mylius . . . . . . 261
  • Memorandum . . . . . . 262
  • October 2. Benjamin Franklin to John Adams . . . 262
  • 4. To M. Dumas . . . . . . 263
  • Twenty-Six Letters upon Interesting Subjects respecting the Revolution of America . 265
  • 6. M. Bicker to John Adams . . . . 313
  • 8. Benjamin Franklin to John Adams . . 314
  • 14. To Thomas Digges . . . . . 315
  • 14. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . 316
  • 16. Baron Van der Capellen to John Adams . . 317
  • 20. Benjamin Franklin to John Adams . . . 318
  • 22. To Baron Van der Capellen . . . 319
  • 24. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . . 320
  • 27. To the President of Congress . . . 320
  • 28. The Committee of Foreign Affairs to John Adams 321
  • November 1. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 322
  • 3. To M. Van Blomberg . . . . . 323
  • 4. From M. Van Blomberg . . . . 323
  • 6. To M. Bicker . . . . . . 324
  • 7. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 324 Edition: current; Page: [xii]
  • 7. From M. Bicker . . . . . . 325
  • 7. From M. Bicker . . . . . . 326
  • 10. Memorandum . . . . . . 326
  • 9. To M. Dumas . . . . . . 327
  • 10. To M. Bicker . . . . . . 327
  • 11. From M. Bicker . . . . . . 327
  • 12. To Commodore Gillon . . . . . 328
  • 16. To the President of Congress . . . 329
  • 17. To the President of Congress . . . 330
  • 20. To Baron Van der Capellen . . . 332
  • 20. To M. John Luzac . . . . . 332
  • 24. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . . 333
  • 28. Baron Van der Capellen to John Adams . . 333
  • 30. To B. Franklin . . . . . . 337
  • 30. To the President of Congress . . . 338
  • December 9. To Baron Van der Capellen . . . . 339
  • 12. The Committee of Foreign Affairs to John Adams 341
  • 14. To the President of Congress . . . 341
  • 18. The President of Congress to John Adams . 343
  • 24. Baron Van der Capellen to John Adams . . 343
  • 25. To the President of Congress . . . 346
  • 31. To the President of Congress . . . 348
  • 1781. January 1. The President of Congress to John Adams . 349
  • 1. Francis Dana to John Adams . . . . 349
  • 5. To the President of Congress . . . 352
  • 10. The President of Congress to John Adams . 353
  • 18. To Francis Dana . . . . . 353
  • 21. To Baron Van der Capellen . . . . 355
  • 25. To M. Dumas . . . . . . 360
  • 28. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 362
  • February 2. To M. Dumas . . . . . . 364 Edition: current; Page: [xiii]
  • 2. To Messrs. John de Neufville and Sons . . 365
  • 6. To M. Dumas . . . . . . 366
  • 8. To Francis Dana . . . . . 368
  • 15. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . . 369
  • 20. To M. Bicker . . . . . . 369
  • 21. M. Bicker to John Adams . . . . 370
  • 22. Benjamin Franklin to John Adams . . . 371
  • March 1. To M. Bicker . . . . . . 371
  • 1. To M. Dumas . . . . . . 372
  • 8. To M. Dumas . . . . . . 372
  • 8. A Memorial to the States-General . . 373
  • 8. To the Prince de Galitzin . . . . 373
  • 8. To M. Van Berckel . . . . . 374
  • 8. To the Duc de la Vauguyon . . . . 374
  • 9. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 375
  • 10. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 375
  • 11. To Messrs. John de Neufville and Sons . . 376
  • 12. To Francis Dana . . . . . 377
  • 14. The Duc de la Vauguyon to John Adams . . 378
  • 17. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 379
  • 17. To M. Dumas . . . . . . 379
  • 19. To the President of Congress . . . 380
  • 19. To M. Dumas . . . . . . 382
  • 22. To Francis Dana . . . . . 383
  • 27. To Messrs. John de Neufville and Sons . . 383
  • 28. To John Jay . . . . . . 384
  • April 6. To the President of Congress . . . 385
  • 10. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . 386
  • 14. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 387
  • 16. To the Duc de la Vauguyon . . . . 388
  • 16. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . . 389
  • 17. The Duc de la Vauguyon to John Adams . . 390 Edition: current; Page: [xiv]
  • 18. Francis Dana to John Adams . . . 391
  • 18. To Francis Dana . . . . . 392
  • 18. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 394
  • 19. To Peter Van Bleiswyck . . . . 395
  • 19. To M Fagel . . . . . . 396
  • Memorial to their High Mightinesses, the States-General of the United Provinces of the Low Countries . . . . . . 396
  • 19. Memorial to the Prince of Orange . . . 405
  • 21. Benjamin Franklin to John Adams . . . 407
  • 26. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 408
  • May 1. To the Duc de la Vauguyon . . . . 409
  • 3. To the President of Congress . . . . 409
  • 6. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 411
  • 7. To M. Dumas . . . . . . 412
  • 7. To the President of Congress . . . 412
  • 8. To John Laurens . . . . . 415
  • 14. To the Duc de la Vauguyon . . . . 416
  • 16. The Duc de la Vauguyon to John Adams . . 416
  • 16. To the President of Congress . . . 417
  • 16. To the President of Congress . . . 417
  • 18. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 419
  • 19. To M. Dumas . . . . . . 420
  • 23. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . . 421
  • June 1. To M. Dumas . . . . . . 423
  • 1. To the President of the Assembly of the States-General . . . . . . 423
  • 5. M. Berenger to John Adams . . . . 423
  • 6. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 424
  • 8. To M. Berenger . . . . . . 426
  • 15. To the President of Congress . . . 427
  • 23. To the President of Congress . . . 427 Edition: current; Page: [xv]
  • 25. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 430
  • July 7. To Count de Vergennes . . . . 431
  • 9. M. de Rayneval to John Adams . . . 432
  • 9. To M. de Rayneval . . . . . 432
  • 11. To the President of Congress . . . 433
  • (Articles to serve as a Basis to the Negotiation for the Reestablishment of Peace) . . . . 435
  • 13. To Count de Vergennes . . . . 436
  • (Answer of the Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States to the Articles) . . . . 436
  • 15. To the President of Congress . . . 440
  • 16. To Count de Vergennes . . . . 441
  • 18. Count de Vergennes to John Adams . . 443
  • 18. To Count de Vergennes . . . . 444
  • 19. To Count de Vergennes . . . . 446
  • 21. To Count de Vergennes . . . . 450
  • 21. The Committee of Foreign Affairs to John Adams 453
  • August 3. To the President of Congress . . . 453
  • 16. Benjamin Franklin to John Adams . . . 456
  • The President of Congress to John Adams (Inclosed) 20 June . . . . . 456
  • 16. To the President of Congress . . . 457
  • 25. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . . 459
  • 28. Francis Dana to John Adams . . . 461
  • 31. Benjamin Franklin to John Adams . . . 463
  • September 1. The Committee of Foreign Affairs to John Adams 465
  • October 4. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . . 465
  • 5. Benjamin Franklin to John Adams . . . 466
  • 11. Francis Dana to John Adams . . . . 468
  • 15. To the President of Congress . . . 471
  • 22. George Washington to John Adams . . . 475
  • November 7. Benjamin Franklin to John Adams . . . 475 Edition: current; Page: [xvi]
  • 24. To the Duc de la Vauguyon . . . . 481
  • 25. To the Duc de la Vauguyon . . . . 483
  • 26. To John Jay . . . . . . 484
  • 26. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . . 485
  • 28. To John Jay . . . . . . 486
  • December 4. To the President of Congress . . . 487
  • 6. To M. Dumas . . . . . . 489
  • 7. The Duc de la Vauguyon to John Adams . . 490
  • 13. To John Luzac . . . . . . 490
  • 14. To Francis Dana . . . . . 493
  • 15. John Jay to John Adams . . . . 495
  • 18. To the President of Congress . . . 497
  • 19. To the Duc de la Vauguyon . . . . 498
  • 20. The Duc de la Vauguyon to John Adams . . 500
  • 30. The Duc de la Vauguyon to John Adams . . 500
  • 1782. January 6. Baron Van der Capellen to John Adams . . 501
  • 14. To Baron Van der Capellen . . . . 502
  • 14. To the President of Congress . . . 504
  • 25. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . . 508
  • February 12. Benjamin Franklin to John Adams . . . 509
  • 14. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 510
  • 19. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 513
  • 19. David Hartley to John Adams . . . 518
  • 20. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . . 519
  • 20. To the Marquis de Lafayette . . . 520
  • 21. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 521
  • 24. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 530
  • 26. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 531
  • 28. To John Jay . . . . . . 531
  • March 1. To the Duc de la Vauguyon . . . . 532
  • 4. The Duc de la Vauguyon to John Adams . . 534 Edition: current; Page: [xvii]
  • 5. To M. Bergsma . . . . . . 535
  • 10. To the Marquis de Lafayette . . . 536
  • 10. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 536
  • 11. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 537
  • 12. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 539
  • M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 540
  • 13. To M. Dumas . . . . . . 542
  • 15. To Francis Dana . . . . . 543
  • 16. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 545
  • 16. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 546
  • 20. To John Luzac . . . . . . 548
  • 20. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 548
  • T. Digges to John Adams . . . . 549
  • D. Hartley to John Adams (Inclosed) 11 March . 550
  • 21. To T. Digges . . . . . . 551
  • 22. To M. Dubbledemutz . . . . . 551
  • 22. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 552
  • 23. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 553
  • 26. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . . 554
  • 27. Marquis de Lafayette to John Adams . . 556
  • 28. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 557
  • 29. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 557
  • 30. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 558
  • 31. To Peter Van Bleiswyck . . . . 560
  • 31. Baron Van der Capellen to John Adams . . 560
  • April 2. T. Digges to John Adams . . . . 562
  • 6. To the Marquis de Lafayette . . . 564
  • 6. C. de Gyselaer to John Adams . . . 565
  • 6. Baron Van der Capellen to John Adams . . 566
  • 7. To M. Dubbledemutz . . . . . 566
  • 9. The Duc de la Vauguyon to John Adams . . 566
  • 9. To the Duc de la Vauguyon . . . . 567 Edition: current; Page: [xviii]
  • 11. M. Abbema to John Adams . . . . 567
  • 11. To M. Abbema . . . . . . 568
  • 11. To M. Pauli . . . . . . 568
  • 16. John Luzac to John Adams . . . . 569
  • 16. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . . 569
  • 22. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 571
  • 23. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 572
  • 23. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 573
  • 24. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 574
  • 26. To M. Hodshon . . . . . . 575
  • 30. Proposals for opening a Loan . . . 575
  • 30. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 576
  • Jacob Nolet to John Adams, (Inclosed) 19 April . 576
  • Jacob Nolet to M. Dumas, 29 April . . . 577
  • May 2. To M. Dumas . . . . . . 578
  • Verbal Message to the City of Schiedam, 8 May . 579
  • 2. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . . 580
  • 7. Marquis de Lafayette to John Adams . . 581
  • 11. W. and J. Willink, Nic. and Jac. Van Staphorst, and De la Lande and Fynje to John Adams . 583
  • 13. To Francis Dana . . . . . 583
  • 13. To Messrs. W. and J. Willink and Others . . 585
  • 16. Messrs. Willink and Others to John Adams . 586
  • 16. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 587
  • 17. To Messrs. W. and J. Willink and Others . . 591
  • 17. Messrs. Willink and Others to John Adams . 592
  • 21. To the Marquis de Lafayette . . . 593
  • 24. To Messrs. Willink and Others . . . 594
  • June 13. To John Hodshon . . . . . 595
  • 13. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . . 596
  • 15. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 598
  • July 5. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 599 Edition: current; Page: [xix]
  • 16. C. L. Beyma to John Adams . . . . 600
  • 22. E. F. Van Berckel to John Adams (Extract) . 601
  • 23. To M. Van Berckel . . . . . 601
  • August 2. John Jay to John Adams . . . . 602
  • 8. M. Van Berckel to John Adams . . . 604
  • 10. To M. Van Berckel . . . . . 605
  • 10. To John Jay . . . . . . 606
  • 11. To Messrs. Willink and Others . . . 608
  • 12. To Mr. Mazzei . . . . . . 608
  • 13. To John Jay . . . . . . 609
  • 15. To Henry Laurens . . . . . 611
  • 17. To John Jay . . . . . . 612
  • 18. To Henry Laurens . . . . . 612
  • 18. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 613
  • 22. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 614
  • 27. Henry Laurens to John Adams . . . 614
  • September 4. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 616
  • 6. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 626
  • 17. To Francis Dana . . . . . 632
  • 17. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 633
  • 17. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 635
  • 23. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 638
  • 27. Robert Morris to John Adams . . . 641
  • 28. John Jay to John Adams . . . . 641
  • 29. To the Marquis de Lafayette . . . 642
  • October 1. M. Cerisier to John Adams . . . . 643
  • 6. Marquis de Lafayette to John Adams . . 644
  • 7. To John Jay . . . . . . 645
  • 8. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 646
  • 10. To Francis Dana . . . . . 649
  • 15. Francis Dana to John Adams . . . . 650
  • 20. M. Holtzhey to John Adams . . . . 652 Edition: current; Page: [xx]
  • 31. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 652
  • November 1. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . . 654
  • 2. To M. Holtzhey . . . . . . 655
  • 3. Benjamin Franklin to John Adams . . . 656
  • 6. To Robert Morris . . . . . 656
  • 6. To Henry Laurens . . . . . 658
  • 6. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 659
  • 7. To Robert Morris . . . . . 663
  • 8. To Francis Dana . . . . . 665
  • Appendix . . . . . . . . . 667
Edition: current; Page: [1]

OFFICIAL LETTERS, MESSAGES, AND PUBLIC PAPERS.

Edition: current; Page: [2] Edition: current; Page: [3]

INTRODUCTORY NOTE.

The official papers of Mr. Adams are so voluminous as altogether to forbid the idea of embracing the whole within the limits of the present work. At the outset, it was supposed that the fact of the publication by government of a large portion of them, in a permanent form, would render the work of reproduction to any great extent superfluous. But a close investigation showed that a selection was absolutely necessary, in order to do justice to the career of the writer as a statesman. Ten critical years in the foreign relations of the country, in the course of which its position as an independent state was first recognized in Europe, could not but produce memorials essential to the history of those who acted any part in the scene. To Mr. Adams these are most important, as developing the substantial unity of his system of policy, from first to last, a feature which has not been hitherto pointed out so clearly as justice to him would seem to demand.

The necessity of making a selection from these papers having for this reason been assumed, the next thing was to look for some principle of publication adapted to answer the purpose intended. After due reflection, it was, first of all, thought best to place the selected letters by themselves, not even connecting with them any private correspondence of the same date, that might lay open the secret springs of the movements described. This will find its proper place in the general collection relating to public events, which immediately follows these official papers. By the arrangement, in chronological series, reference can be made at pleasure by the curious reader to any period of time, without incurring the hazard of breaking the continuous record of the author’s public action. Secondly, the rule of publication was made to apply, first, to the magnitude of the events described; next, to the manner in which they are treated; thirdly, to the influence exercised upon them, directly or incidentally, by the writer; lastly, to the effect upon his own position. To one or other of these reasons the presence of each of the papers contained in this part of the work must be referred.

Many letters have been admitted, signed by the members of the Commission to France; none, however, which are not believed to have been drawn up by Mr. Adams, and which do not tend to show the place occupied by him in that unfortunate association, and the efforts which he made to change its character, or to effect its dissolution. This portion of the collection is a mere continuation of the series in the Diary, and derives much light from the explanations therein given.

The public letters of distinguished persons which either occasioned, or are in reply to, those of Mr. Adams, are furnished in all cases where they are deemed Edition: current; Page: [4] necessary to promote the end designed. Many of them have never been published before. Some, though printed in other forms, are not found in the great repository of these papers,—the Diplomatic Correspondence of the Revolution,—a valuable work, but unfortunately disfigured by numerous typographical errors, especially in proper names, and wanting in that most indispensable part to every useful publication of an extended and complex nature, a thorough index.

The letters of Mr. Adams, when drawn from his copy books, will, in many cases, be found to vary more or less from the ultimate forms as they may yet exist elsewhere. This is to be ascribed to the fact, that the former were often in the nature of rough drafts, altered or improved, when transcribed to be sent away, and not to any design of the editor. He ventures upon no liberties with the text, excepting such as are requisite to correct obvious errors of haste, or marked imperfections of language.

Many letters from French and other correspondents will be found in the language in which they were written. This has been thought better than to take the responsibility of translating them. Variations of phrase, which in themselves appear trifling, do yet, in many cases, materially change the character of a style. And that is the particular which, in official papers, it seems most important to preserve intact. Neither is it presumed, that the occasional introduction of a language so generally made part of the system of education in America, as the French, can present such an obstacle to the understanding of the text as may not readily be surmounted.

In the year 1809, a series of papers was addressed by Mr. Adams to the publishers of the Boston Patriot, embracing extracts from many of his letters which had not at that time been published in any form, and such comments and elucidations as he deemed expedient to add, in order to explain his public course. These papers were afterwards collected and published in Boston, in a volume entitled Correspondence of the late President Adams. Recourse has been freely had to this volume, wherever it furnishes the materials for illustrating the same letters as now presented in a more extended form, and with a better chronological arrangement than was in that case practicable.

Edition: current; Page: [5]

PUBLIC PAPERS.

Henry Laurens
Laurens, Henry
28 November, 1777
Yorktown
John Adams
Adams, John

THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

I have the honor of conveying under this cover, an extract1 from the minutes of congress of the present date, which certifies your election to be a commissioner at the Court of France. Had congress given direction, or if I were acquainted with precedents, a commission should have accompanied this notification. In the mean time, permit me, sir, to congratulate with the friends of America upon this judicious appointment, and to wish you every kind of success and happiness.

I have the honor to be, with very great respect and esteem, sir,

Your humble servant,
Henry Laurens, President of Congress.
Henry Laurens
Laurens, Henry
3 December, 1777
Yorktown
John Adams
Adams, John

THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

The 28th ultimo I had the honor of writing to you by the messenger, Frederick Weare, and of transmitting a vote of congress by which you are appointed a commissioner at the Court of France. Inclosed under this cover you will find a commission executed agreeable to the order of congress.

You have no doubt heard, or will hear before this can reach Edition: current; Page: [6] you, of the little affair which happened last week in Jersey,—the attack by the Marquis de la Fayette, at the head of about four hundred militia and a detachment from Morgan’s rifles, on a piquet of three hundred Hessians twice reinforced by British,—in which our troops were successful, killed about twenty, wounded more, took fourteen prisoners, and chased the enemy about half a mile. We learned that General Greene, under whom the Marquis had acted, had been recalled from Jersey, but it is probable, from an account received this morning in a private letter from Major Clarke, something more must have been done before he recrossed Delaware.

The Major writes that, from different and corroborating accounts, Lord Cornwallis was killed or wounded; that, in an attack made at Gloucester, the enemy were beaten, left thirty dead on the field, &c., crossed the water, after having set fire to that pretty little town, by which the whole was consumed;1 that the English officers, greatly enraged against the French nation, openly declare they would gladly forgive America for the exchange of drubbing the French; that General Howe had billeted his soldiers on the inhabitants of Philadelphia, two in each house, and had taken many of their blankets for the use of his light horse, which had occasioned universal discontent and murmuring among the citizens; that a ship and brig, richly laden, attempting to come up the river, had been lost among the chevaux de frise.

I beg, Sir, you will do me the favor to present my respectful compliments to Mr. S. Adams, and to accept the repeated good wishes of, Sir,

Your most obedient and most humble servant,
Henry Laurens, President of Congress.
R. H. Lee
Lee, R. H.
James Lovell
Lovell, James
3 December, 1777
York
John Adams
Adams, John

THE COMMITTEE OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

With great pleasure to ourselves we discharge our duty, by inclosing to you your commission for representing Edition: current; Page: [7] these United States at the Court of France. We are by no means willing to admit a thought of your declining this important service, and, therefore, we send duplicates of the commission, and the late resolves, in order that you may take one set with you, and send the other by another vessel.

These are important papers, and, therefore, we wish they may be put into the hands of a particular and careful person, with directions to deliver them himself into the hands of the commissioners. Mr. Hancock, before he left this place, said that he intended to send a gentleman to France on some particular business. Cannot we prevail to get this gentleman to undertake the delivery of our packet to the commissioners, they paying the expense of travel to Paris and back again to his place of business?

It is unnecessary to mention the propriety of directing these despatches to be bagged with weight proper for sinking them, on any immediate prospect of their otherwise falling into the enemy’s hands.

We sincerely wish you a quick and pleasant voyage, being truly your affectionate friends,

R. H. Lee.
James Lovell.
John Adams
Adams, John
23 December, 1777
Braintree
Henry Laurens
Laurens, Henry

TO HENRY LAURENS, PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

Having been absent on a journey, I had not the honor of receiving your letters until yesterday, when one, of the 28th of November inclosing a resolution of congress of the same day, and another of the 3d of December, inclosing a commission for Dr. Franklin, Dr. Lee, and myself, to represent the United States at the Court of France, were delivered to me in Boston.

As I am deeply penetrated with a sense of the high honor which has been done me in this appointment, I cannot but wish I were better qualified for the important trust; but as congress are perfectly acquainted with all my deficiencies, I conclude it is their determination to make the necessary allowances; in the humble hope of which, I shall submit my own judgment to Edition: current; Page: [8] theirs, and devote all the faculties I have, and all that I can acquire, to their service.

You will be pleased to accept of my sincere thanks, for the polite manner in which you have communicated to me the commands of congress, and believe me to be, with the most perfect respect and esteem, &c.

John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
24 December, 1777
Braintree

TO THE COMMITTEE OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS.

Gentlemen,

Having been absent from this State, I had not the honor of your favor of December 3d, until the 22d, when it was delivered to me with its inclosures, namely,—a letter from the President to the Navy Board at Boston, and a private letter of December 8th, from Mr. Lovell. At the same time, I received a packet directed to Benjamin Franklin, Arthur Lee, and John Adams, Commissioners of the United States of America, in France, under seal. I also received a packet unsealed, containing,—

1. Copy of a letter dated the 2d of December, from the Committee of Foreign Affairs to the Commissioners.1

2. A duplicate of a commission of the 27th of November, to the Commissioners.

3. A duplicate of a resolve of December 3d; duplicates of resolves of November 20th and 21st, and duplicates of resolves of November 10th and 22d.

4. Two letters unsealed, to Silas Deane, Paris.

5. Two printed handbills,—one containing messages, &c., between the Generals Burgoyne and Gates; the other, a copy of a letter, &c., from Mr. Strickland. The packet under seal, I shall do myself the honor to forward by the first conveyance, and the other shall be conveyed, God willing, with my own hand.

I have the honor to be, with the greatest esteem, &c.

John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [9]
Baron de Kalb
de Kalb, Baron
27 December, 1777
John Adams
Adams, John

BARON DE KALB TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

As you are going to France in a public character from the United States, will you give me leave to present you a letter of introduction for M. le Comte de Broglie, one for M. Moreau, the first Secretary to Count de Vergennes, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and two for my lady, who will be glad to see you, and to get news from me by your means?

I wish you a good passage, a safe arrival, health and success in all your enterprises, no one being with more regard and esteem, sir,

Your most obedient and very humble servant,
Baron de Kalb.
Le Baron de Kalb
de Kalb, Le Baron
27 Décembre, 1777
Comte De Broglie
De Broglie, Comte

(Inclosed with the foregoing.)
BARON DE KALB TO THE COMTE DE BROGLIE.

Monsieur le Comte,

Vous prenez tant d’intérêt au succès de la cause Américaine, que je vais oser vous recommander M. John Adams, l’un des membres du congrès, qui va en France, pour y traiter à la cour les affaires de Politique comme M. Deane y sera chargé des affaires de Commerce. M. Adams est un homme de mérite, généralement estimé dans ce pays ci, et auquel nous avons, M. Delessert de Valfort et moi, quelque obligation relativement à nos bagages. Votre crédit lui seroit d’une grande utilité, si vous vouliez daigner le lui accorder. J’ai eu l’honneur de vous écrire une longue lettre il y a deux jours, j’espère qu’elle vous parviendra. La poste pour Boston me presse, sans quoi j’eus aussi joint ici une copie. Je suis avec le plus respectueux dévouement, &c.

Le Baron de Kalb.
Le Baron de Kalb
de Kalb, Le Baron
27 Décembre, 1777
M. Moreau
Moreau, M.

BARON DE KALB TO M. MOREAU.

L’amitié dont vous m’avez toujours honoré, Monsieur, me fait prendre la liberté de vous recommander M. John Adams, Edition: current; Page: [10] l’un des membres du congrès, qui est chargé de Commission pour la France. Comme il aura certainement des demandes à faire à M. le Comte de Vergennes, et des affaires à traiter dans votre département, je vous supplie de lui accorder vos bons offices, persuadé que tout ce que le roi accordera aux États Unis de l’Amérique ne peut tendre qu’au bien et à l’avantage de son royaume.

Je serai fort aise de pouvoir vous être utile dans ce pays ci pendant le séjour que j’y ferai, ainsi que d’y exécuter les ordres de M. le Comte de Vergennes, s’il en avoit à me donner.

J’ai l’honneur d’être, avec le plus parfait et le plus sincère attachement, Monsieur, &c. &c.

Le Baron de Kalb,
Major-Général de l’Armée Américaine.
Marquis De La Fayette
De La Fayette, Marquis
9 January, 1778
John Adams
Adams, John

THE MARQUIS DE LA FAYETTE TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

As General Knox will have the pleasure to see you before your going to France, I take the liberty of intrusting him with the inclosed letter for you, which you will find very importune,1 but I hope you will excuse, on account of my being very desirous to let my friends hear from me by every opportunity. Such a distance, so many enemies are between me and every relation, every acquaintance of mine, that I will not reproach myself with any neglect in my entertaining with them the best correspondence I can. However, to avoid troubling you with too large a parcel of letters, I will send my despatches by two ways, as one other occasion is offered to me in this very moment. I must beg your pardon, sir, for making myself free enough to recommend you to some friends of mine in France; but as I do not believe you have many acquaintances in that country, I thought it would not be disagreeable to you, if I would desire Madame de la Fayette and the Prince de Poix to whom I write to introduce you to some of my other friends. Before indulging myself in that liberty, I asked the General Edition: current; Page: [11] Knox’s opinion, who told me that he did not find any thing amiss in it, although I had not the honor of your particular acquaintance.

I told General Knox some particular advices which I believed not to be disagreeable to you. I hope you will hear good news from here, and send very good ones from there. Such is the desire of a friend to your country and the noble cause we are fighting for. I wish you a pleasant and safe voyage, and with the highest esteem and greatest affection for a man to whom the hearts of every lover of liberty will be indebted forever, I have the honor to be, sir,

Your most obedient servant,
The Marquis de la Fayette.
Henry Laurens
Laurens, Henry
22 January, 1778
Yorktown
John Adams
Adams, John

THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

On the 19th instant I had the honor of receiving and presenting to congress, your favor of the 23d ultimo, the contents of which afforded great satisfaction to the house. It is now the wish of every friend to American independence to learn speedily of your safe arrival at the Court of Versailles, where your sagacity, vigilance, integrity, and knowledge of American affairs, are extremely wanted for promoting the interest of these infant States. You are so well acquainted with our present representation in that part of Europe, and with the delays and misfortunes under which we have suffered, as renders it unnecessary to attempt particular intimations.

Inclosed you will find an act of the 8th instant for suspending the embarkation of General Burgoyne and his troops. Mr. Lovell has very fully advised you on that subject by the present opportunity; permit me to add, that I have it exceedingly at heart, from a persuasion of the rectitude and justifiableness of the measures, to be in the van of the British ministry and their emissaries at every court of Europe.

Baron Holzendorff presents his best compliments, and requests your care of the inclosed letter, directed to his lady. If I can possibly redeem time enough for writing to my family and friends in England, I will take the liberty by the next messenger Edition: current; Page: [12] to trouble you with a small packet; hitherto, all private considerations have been overruled by a constant attention to business of more importance; I mean since the first of November.

I have the honor to be, with great regard and esteem, sir,

Your most obedient and most humble servant,
Henry Laurens, President of Congress.
John Adams
Adams, John
3 February, 1778
Braintree
Marquis De La Fayette
De La Fayette, Marquis

TO THE MARQUIS DE LA FAYETTE.

Sir,

I had yesterday the honor of receiving from the hand of my worthy friend, General Knox, your kind letter to me, together with five others, which, with submission to the fortune of war, shall be conveyed and delivered as you desire. I am happy in this opportunity to convey intelligence from you to your friends, and think myself greatly honored and obliged by your politeness and attention to me; a favor which makes me regret the more my misfortune, in not having had the honor heretofore of a more particular acquaintance with a nobleman who has endeared his name and character to every honest American and every sensible friend of mankind, by his efforts in favor of the rights of both, as unexampled as they were generous. I thank you, sir, for the kind advice communicated by General Knox,1 to which I shall carefully and constantly attend. Shall at all times be happy to hear of your welfare, and to have an opportunity of rendering you any service in my power.

I have the honor to be,
With the greatest respect and esteem, sir,
Your most obedient and obliged humble servant,
John Adams.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
John Adams
Adams, John
14 May, 1778
Passy
M. De Sartine
De Sartine, M.

THE COMMISSIONERS TO M. DE SARTINE.2

Sir,

In the several cruises made by Captains Wickes, Johnston, Cunningham, and others of our armed vessels, on the Edition: current; Page: [13] coast of Great Britain, it is computed that between four and five hundred prisoners have been made and set at liberty, either on their landing in France, or at sea, because it was understood that we could not keep them confined in France. When Captain Wickes brought in at one time near a hundred, we proposed to Lord Stormont an exchange for as many of ours confined in England; but all treaty on the subject was rudely refused, and our people are still detained there, notwithstanding the liberal discharges made of theirs, as above-mentioned. We hear that Captain Jones has now brought into Brest near two hundred, whom we should be glad to exchange for our seamen, who might be of use in expeditions from hence; but as an opinion prevails, that prisoners of a nation with which France is not at war, and brought into France by another power, cannot be retained by the captors, but are free as soon as they arrive, we are apprehensive that these prisoners may also be set at liberty, return to England, and serve to man a frigate against us, while our brave seamen, with a number of our friends of this nation, whom we are anxious to set free, continue useless and languishing in their jails.

In a treatise of one of your law writers, entitled Traité des Prises qui se font sur Mer, printed 1763, we find the above opinion controverted, p. 129, § 30, in the following words:—“Hence it seems that it is not true, as some pretend, that from the time a prisoner escapes, or otherwise reaches the shore of a neutral power, he is absolutely free. It is true, he cannot be retaken without the consent of that power, but such a power would violate the laws of neutrality if it should refuse its consent. This is a consequence of the asylum of the ship in which the prisoner or hostage was contained.”

We know not of what authority this writer may be, and, therefore, pray a moment of your Excellency’s attention to this matter, requesting your advice upon it, that, if it be possible, some means may be devised to retain these prisoners, till as many of ours can be obtained in exchange for them.

We have the honor to be, &c.
B. Franklin,
Arthur Lee,
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [14]
Henry Laurens
Laurens, Henry
24 May, 1778
Passy

TO THE COMMITTEE OF COMMERCE.

Gentlemen,

I find that the American affairs on this side of the Atlantic are in a state of disorder, very much resembling that which is so much to be regretted on the other, and arising, as I suppose, from the same general causes, the novelty of the scenes, the inexperience of the actors, and the rapidity with which great events have succeeded each other. Our resources are very inadequate to the demands made upon us, which are perhaps unnecessarily increased by several irregularities of proceeding.

We have in some places two or three persons, who claim the character of American agent, agent for commercial affairs, and continental agent, for they are called by all these different appellations. In one quarter, one gentleman claims the character from the appointment of Mr. William Lee; another claims it from the appointment of the Commissioners at Passy; and a third from the appointment of the Commercial Committee of Congress. This introduces a triple expense, and much confusion and delay. These evils have been accidental, I believe, and unavoidable, but they are evils still, and ought to be removed.

One person at Bordeaux, another at Nantes, and a third perhaps at Havre de Grace or Dunkirk, would be amply sufficient for all public purposes, and to these persons all orders from congress, or the commercial committee, or the commissioners at Paris, ought to be addressed. To the same persons all public ships of war, and all other ships belonging to the United States, and their prizes, ought to be addressed; and all orders for the supplies of provisions, clothing, repairs of vessels, &c., as well as all orders for shipping of merchandises, or warlike stores for the United States, ought to go through their hands. We have such abuses and irregularities every day occurring as are very alarming. Agents of various sorts are drawing bills upon us, and the commanders of vessels of war are drawing upon us for expenses and supplies which we never ordered, so that our resources will soon fail, if a speedy stop is not put to this career.

And we find it so difficult to obtain accounts from agents of the expenditure of moneys, and of the goods and merchandises Edition: current; Page: [15] shipped by them, that we can never know either the true state of our finances, or when and in what degree we have executed the orders of congress for sending them arms, clothes, medicines, or other things.

In order to correct some of these abuses, and to bring our affairs into a little better order, I have constantly given my voice against paying for things we never ordered, against paying persons who have never been authorized, and against throwing our affairs into a multiplicity of hands in the same place. But the consequence has been so many refusals of demands and requests, that I expect much discontent will arise from it, and many clamors. Whether the appointment by congress of one or more consuls for this kingdom would remedy these inconveniences, I must submit to their wisdom.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
M. De Sartine
De Sartine, M.
6 Juin, 1778
Marly

M. DE SARTINE TO THE COMMISSIONERS.

Je suis informé, Messieurs, que le sieur Bersolle, après avoir fait des avances assez considérables au Capitaine Jones, commandant la frégate des États Unis de l’Amérique, le Ranger, s’est fait donner par ce capitaine une lettre de change dont vous avez refusé de faire acquitter le montant. Comme le Sieur Bersolle se trouve par là dans l’embarras, et que vous sentirez sans doute qu’il est intéressant pour la conservation de votre crédit qu’il en soit tiré promptement, je suis persuadé que vous ne différerez pas de faire payer non seulement la lettre de change dont il s’agit, mais encore ce qui est dû par le Capitaine Jones, à la caisse de la marine à Brest, tant pour les effets qui lui ont été délivrés des magasins du roi, que pour sa subsistance personelle et celle de son équipage. Sur ce qu’il a représenté que les gens de son équipage avoient pillé du navire, le Chatham, beaucoup d’effets, dont une partie, consistant en argenterie, avoit été vendue à un Juif, il a été pris des informations au moyen desquelles l’argenterie et d’autres effets ont été retrouvés; mais le tout a été en dépôt pour y rester, jusqu’à ce que le capitaine soit en état de rembourser ce qui a été payé pour ces effets.

Je pense, au surplus, qu’il est à propos que vous soyez informés Edition: current; Page: [16] que ce capitaine, qui s’est brouillé avec son état major et avec tout son équipage, a fait mettre en prison le Sieur Simpson, son second. Vous jugerez, peut-être, à propos de vous procurer les éclaircissemens nécessaires pour savoir si ce principal officier s’est mis dans le cas de subir une pareille punition.

J’ai l’honneur d’être avec la plus parfaite considération, messieurs, votre très humble et très obéissant serviteur,

De Sartine.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
John Adams
Adams, John
15 June, 1778
Passy
M. De Sartine
De Sartine, M.

THE COMMISSIONERS TO M. DE SARTINE.

Sir,

We beg leave to inform your Excellency, in answer to the complaint of M. Bersolle, that he had formerly taken the liberty himself to draw on our banker for advances made to Captain Jones before his last cruise, and was much displeased that his draught was refused payment. We acquainted him then with the reason of this refusal, namely,—that he had sent us no accounts of his disbursements or advances, by which we might judge whether his draft was well founded; and he had never any permission to draw on our banker. However, afterwards, when we had seen his accounts, payment was made to him.

In the present case, it is said, he has advanced to Captain Jones a thousand louis, immediately on his arrival, for which the Captain has drawn on us in M. Bersolle’s favor. But as Captain Jones had not previously satisfied us of the necessity for this advance, nor had our permission for the draft, his bill was also refused payment. And as Captain Jones writes us, that, upon the news of our refusal, he was reduced to necessity, not knowing where to get victuals for his people, we conclude that the advance was not actually made, as it is impossible he should, in so short a time, have spent so large a sum. And we think it extremely irregular in merchants to draw bills before they send their accounts, and in captains of ships of war to draw for any sums they please without previous notice and express permission. And our captains have the less excuse for it, as we have ever been ready to furnish them with all the necessaries they desired, and Captain Jones in particular has had of us near Edition: current; Page: [17] a hundred thousand livres for such purposes, of which twelve thousand was to be distributed among his people to relieve their necessities, the only purpose mentioned to us for which this draft was made, and which we thought sufficient. If this liberty assumed of drawing on us, without our knowledge or consent, is not checked, and we are obliged to pay such drafts, it will be impossible for us to regulate our own contracts and engagements so as to fulfil them with punctuality, and we might in a little time become bankrupts ourselves. If, therefore, M. Bersolle has brought himself into any embarrassment, it is not our fault, but his. We are ready to discharge all debts we contract; but we must not permit other people to run us in debt without our leave; and we do not conceive it can hurt our credit if we refuse payment of such debts.

Whatever is due for necessaries furnished to Captain Jones by the Caisse de la Marine, at Brest, either from the magazine, or for the subsistence of his people, we shall also readily and thankfully pay as soon as we have seen and approve of the accounts; but we conceive that, regularly, the communication of accounts should always precede demands of payment.

We are much obliged by the care that has been taken to recover the goods pillaged from the Chatham, and we think the charges that have arisen in that transaction ought to be paid, and we suppose will be paid, out of the produce of the sales of that ship and her cargo.

We understand Lieutenant Simpson is confined by his captain for breach of orders; he has desired a trial, which cannot be had here, and, therefore, at his request, we have directed that he should be sent to America for that purpose.

We shall be obliged to your Excellency for your orders to permit the immediate sale of the Chatham and other prizes; that the part belonging to the captors may be paid them, as they are very uneasy at the delay, being distressed for want of their money to purchase clothing, &c., and we wish to have the part belonging to the Congress, out of which to defray the charges accruing on the ships. The difficulties our people have heretofore met with in the sale of prizes, have occasioned them to be sold, often for less than half their value. And these difficulties not being yet quite removed, are so discouraging, that we apprehend it will be thought advisable to keep our vessels Edition: current; Page: [18] of war in America, and send no more to cruise on the coast of England.

We are not acquainted with the character of Captain Batson; but if your Excellency should have occasion for a pilot on the coast of America, and this person, on examination, should appear qualified, we shall be glad that he may be found useful in that quality; and we are thankful to the Consul at Nice for his readiness to serve our countrymen.

With the greatest respect and esteem, we have the honor to be, your Excellency’s, &c.

B. Franklin,
Arthur Lee,
John Adams.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
John Adams
Adams, John
20 July, 1778
Passy

THE COMMISSIONERS TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

We have the honor to inform congress, that the Spy, Captain Niles, has arrived at Brest, and brought us a ratification of the treaties with His Most Christian Majesty, which has given much satisfaction to this court and nation. On the seventeenth instant we had the honor of exchanging ratifications with his Excellency, the Count de Vergennes. The treaties ratified, signed by his Majesty, and under the great seal of France, are now in our possession, where, perhaps, considering the dangers of enemies at sea, it will be safest to let them remain at present. Copies of them we shall have the honor to transmit to congress by this opportunity.

War is not yet declared between France and England, by either nation, but hostilities at sea have been already commenced by both; and as the French fleet from Brest, under the command of the Count d’Orvilliers, and the British fleet, under Admiral Keppel, are both at sea, we are in hourly expectation of a rencontre between them. The Jamaica fleet, the Windward Island fleet, and a small fleet from the Mediterranean, have arrived at London, which has enabled them to obtain, by means of a violent impress, perhaps a thousand or fifteen hundred seamen, who will man two or three ships more, in the whole, making Admiral Keppel’s fleet somewhat nearer to an Edition: current; Page: [19] equality with the French. In the mean time, the Spanish flotilla has arrived, but the councils of that court are kept in a secrecy so profound, that we presume not to say with confidence what are her real intentions. We continue, however, to receive from various quarters encouraging assurances; and, from the situation of the powers of Europe, it seems highly probable that Spain will join France in case of war.

A war in Germany between the Emperor and King of Prussia seems to be inevitable, and it is affirmed that the latter has marched his army into Bohemia, so that we apprehend that America has at present nothing to fear from Germany. We are doing all in our power to obtain a loan of money, and have a prospect of procuring some in Amsterdam, but not in such quantities as will be wanted. We are constrained to request congress to be as sparing as possible in their drafts upon us. The drafts already made, together with the great expense arising from the frigates which have been sent here, and the expenses of the commissioners, the maintenance of your ministers for Vienna and Tuscany,1 and of prisoners who have made their escape, and the amount of clothes and munitions of war already sent to America, are such, that we are under great apprehensions that our funds will not be sufficient to answer the drafts which we daily expect for the interest of loan office certificates, as well as those from Mr. Bringham.

We have the honor to inclose a copy of a letter from M. de Sartine, the Minister of Marine, and to request the attention of congress to the subject of it.

We are told in several letters from the honorable committee for foreign affairs, that we shall receive instructions and authority for giving up, on our part, the whole of the eleventh article of the treaty, proposing it as a condition to the Court of France, that they on their part should give up the whole of the twelfth. But, unfortunately, these instructions and that authority were omitted to be sent with the letters, and we have not yet received them. At the time of the exchange of the ratifications, we mentioned this subject to the Count de Vergennes, and gave him an extract of the committee’s letter. His answer to us was, that the alteration would be readily agreed to; and he Edition: current; Page: [20] ordered his secretary not to register the ratification till it was done. We therefore request that we may be honored with the instructions and authority of congress to set aside the two articles as soon as possible, and while the subject is fresh in memory.

The letter to M. Dumas is forwarded, and in answer to the committee’s inquiry, what is proper for congress to do for that gentleman, we beg leave to say, that his extreme activity and diligence in negotiating our affairs, and his punctuality in his correspondence with congress, as well as with us, and his usefulness to our cause in several other ways, not at present proper to be explained, give him, in our opinion, a good title to two hundred pounds sterling a year at least.

The other things mentioned in the committee’s letter to us shall be attended to as soon as possible. We have received also the resolution of congress of the ninth of February, and the letter of the committee of the same date, empowering us to appoint one or more suitable persons to be commercial agents, for conducting the commercial business of the United States in France and other parts of Europe. But as this power was given us before congress received the treaty, and we have never received it but with the ratification of the treaty, and as by the treaty congress is empowered to appoint consults in the ports of France, perhaps it may be expected of us that we should wait for the appointment of consuls. At present, Mr. John Bondfield of Bordeaux, and Mr. J. D. Schweighauser at Nantes, both by the appointment of Mr. William Lee, are the only persons authorized as commercial agents. If we should find it expedient to give appointments to any other persons, before we hear from congress, we will send information of it by the first opportunity. If congress should think proper to appoint consuls, we are humbly of opinion, that the choice will fall most justly, as well as naturally, on Americans, who are, in our opinion, better qualified for this business than any others; and the reputation of such an office, together with a moderate commission on the business they may transact, and the advantages to be derived from trade, will be a sufficient inducement to undertake it, and a sufficient reward for discharging the duties of it.

We have the honor to be, &c.
B. Franklin,
Arthur Lee,
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [21]
John Adams
Adams, John
27 July, 1778
Passy

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

I thank you, my dear sir, for your kind congratulations on the favorable appearances in our American concerns, and for so politely particularizing one of the most inconsiderable of them, my safe arrival in France, which was after a very inconvenient passage of forty-five days.

Your letter to Mr. Izard I had the pleasure to send to him immediately in Paris, where he resides, the Court of Tuscany being so connected with that of Vienna, as to discourage hitherto his departure for Italy. He did me the honor of a visit yesterday, when we had much sweet communion, as the phrase is, upon American affairs.

Your other letter to your daughter-in-law, I have forwarded by a safe opportunity. You may depend upon my conveying your letters to any of your friends by the best opportunities, and with despatch. The more of your commands you send me, the more pleasure you will give me.

War is not declared, that is, no manifesto has been published, but each nation is daily manufacturing materials for the other’s manifesto, by open hostilities. In short, sir, the two nations have been at war ever since the recall of the ambassadors. The King of France has given orders to all his ships to attack the English, and has given vast encouragement to privateers.

The King of Great Britain and his council have determined to send instructions to their commissioners in America to offer us independency, provided we will make peace with them, separate from France. This appears to me to be the last effort to seduce, deceive, and divide. They know that every man of honor in America must receive this proposition with indignation. But they think they can get the men of no honor to join them by such a proposal, and they think the men of honor are not a majority. What has America done to give occasion to that King and council to think so unworthily of her?

The proposition is, in other words, this:—“America, you have fought me until I despair of beating you. You have made an alliance with the first power of Europe, which is a great honor to your country and a great stability to your cause; so Edition: current; Page: [22] great, that it has excited my highest resentment, and has determined me to go to war with France. Do you break your faith with that power, and forfeit her confidence, as well as that of all the rest of mankind forever, and join me to beat her, or stand by neuter, and see me do it, and for all this I will acknowledge your independency, because I think in that case you cannot maintain it, but will be an easy prey to me afterwards, who am determined to break my faith with you, as I wish you to do yours with France.”

My dear countrymen, I hope, will not be allured upon the rocks by the syren song of peace. They are now playing a sure game. They have run all hazards; but now they hazard nothing.

I know your application is incessant, and your moments are precious, and, therefore, that I ask a great favor in requesting your correspondence; but the interests of the public, as well as private friendship, induce me to do it.

I am, &c.
John Adams.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
John Adams
Adams, John
29 July, 1778
Passy

THE COMMISSIONERS TO THE COMMITTEE OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS.

Gentlemen,

We have the honor of your letters of May 14th and 15th. We congratulate you on the general good appearance of our affairs, and we are happy in your assurances, that it is your fixed determination to admit no terms of peace, but such as are consistent with the spirit and intention of our alliance with France, especially as the present politics of the British cabinet aim at seducing you from that alliance, by an offer of independence, upon condition you will renounce it; a measure that will injure the reputation of our States with all the world, and destroy its confidence in our honor.

No authority from congress to make an alteration in the treaty, by withdrawing the eleventh and twelfth articles, has yet reached us. But we gave an extract of your letter to the Count de Vergennes, when we exchanged ratifications, who expressed an entire willingness to agree to it. We wish for the powers by the first opportunity. We have not yet seen M. Beaumarchais, Edition: current; Page: [23] but the important concern with him shall be attended to as soon as may be.

We have the honor to be, &c.
B. Franklin,
Arthur Lee,
John Adams.
M. De Sartine
De Sartine, M.
29 July, 1778
Versailles

M. DE SARTINE TO THE COMMISSIONERS.
(Translation.)1

Gentlemen,

I have received the letter which you did me the honor to transmit on the 16th instant. His Majesty relies greatly on the succors of provisions which the government of Massachusetts Bay may furnish the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon.

The difficulties which the privateers of the United States have experienced till now in the ports of France, either as to the sale of their prizes, or to secure their prisoners, must cease, from the change of circumstances. I make no doubt, on the other hand, but that the United States will grant the same facilities to French privateers. To accomplish this double object, I have drafted a plan of regulations, which I hasten to submit to you. I beg you to examine it, and to signify to me what you think of it; or else to point out other means to attain the same end, in order that I may take thereon his Majesty’s orders.

I have the honor to be, &c.
De Sartine.
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
John Adams
Adams, John
13 August, 1778
Passy
M. De Sartine
De Sartine, M.

THE COMMISSIONERS TO M. DE SARTINE.

Sir,

Your Excellency’s letter of the 29th of July, inclosing a plan for a system of regulations for prizes and prisoners, we had the honor of receiving in due time, and are very sorry it has remained so long unanswered.

Edition: current; Page: [24]

In general, we are of opinion, that the regulations are very good; but we beg leave to lay before your Excellency the following observations:—

Upon the second article we observe, that the extensive jurisdictions of the judges of admiralty in America, which, considering the local and other circumstances of that country, cannot easily be contracted, will probably render this regulation impracticable in America. In France, it will, as far as we are able to judge of it, be very practicable, and consequently beneficial. But we submit to your Excellency’s consideration, whether it would not be better in America after the words “les dits Juges1 to add,—or the register of the court of admiralty, or some other person authorized by the judge. The jurisdictions of the courts of admiralty in America, extending for some hundreds of miles, this regulation would be subject to great delays and other inconveniences, if it was confined to the judge.

The fourth article seems to be subject to the same inconveniences, and, therefore, to require the same amendment.

Upon the fourteenth article, we beg leave to submit to your Excellency’s consideration, whether the heavy duties upon British merchandise and manufactures, if these are to be paid upon prize goods, will not operate as a great discouragement to the sale of prizes made by American cruisers; and whether it would not be consistent with his Majesty’s interest to permit merchandises and manufactures, taken in prizes made by Americans, to be stored in his Majesty’s warehouses, if you please, until they can be exported to America, and without being subject to duties.

We know not the expense that will attend these regulations and proceedings in the courts of this kingdom; but as the fees of office in America are very moderate, and our people have been accustomed to such only, we submit to your Excellency, whether it will not be necessary to state and establish the fees here, and make the establishments so far public, that Americans may be able to inform themselves.

As we are not well instructed in the laws of this kingdom, or in the course of the courts of admiralty here, it is very possible that some inconveniences may arise in the practice upon these regulations, which we do not at present foresee; if they should, Edition: current; Page: [25] we shall beg leave to represent them to your Excellency, and to request his Majesty to make the necessary alterations.

We submit these observations to your Excellency’s superior wisdom, and have the honor to be, with sentiments of the most perfect respect, your Excellency’s most obedient and most humble servants,

Arthur Lee,
John Adams.

Dr. Franklin concurs with us in these sentiments, but as he is absent, we are obliged to send the letter without his signature.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
John Adams
Adams, John
28 August, 1778
Passy
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count

THE COMMISSIONERS TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Sir,

There are several subjects which we find it necessary to lay before your Excellency, and to which we have the honor to request your attention.

At a time when the circumstances of the war may demand the attention of government, and, without doubt, call for so great expense, we are very sorry to be obliged to request your Excellency’s advice respecting the subject of money; but the nature of the war in America, the vast extent of country to defend, and this defence having been made chiefly by militia engaged for short periods, which often obliged us to pay more men than could be brought into actual service, and, above all, this war having been conducted in the midst of thirteen revolutions of civil government against a nation very powerful both by sea and land, have occasioned a very great expense to a country so young, and to a government so unsettled. This has made emissions of paper money indispensable, in much larger sums than in the ordinary course of business is necessary, or than in any other circumstances would have been politic. In order to avoid the necessity of further emissions as much as possible, the congress have borrowed large sums of this paper money of the possessors, upon interest, and have promised the lenders payment of that interest in Europe, and we therefore expect that vessels from America will bring bills of exchange upon us for this interest, a large sum of which is now due.

Edition: current; Page: [26]

It is very true that our country is already under obligations to his Majesty’s goodness for considerable sums of money; the necessities of the United States have been such, that the sums, heretofore generously furnished, are nearly, if not quite expended; and when your Excellency considers that the American trade has been almost entirely interrupted by the British power at sea, they having taken so many of our vessels as to render this trade more advantageous to our enemy than to ourselves; that our frigates and other vessels which have arrived in this kingdom, have cost us a great sum; that the provision of clothing and all the munitions of war for our army, except such as we could make in that country, have been shipped from hence at our expense; that the expense we have been obliged to incur for our unfortunate countrymen, who have been prisoners in England, as well as the maintenance of those taken from the enemy, has been very considerable; your Excellency will not be surprised when you are informed that our resources are exhausted.

We, therefore, hope for the continuance of his Majesty’s generosity, and that the quarterly payment of seven hundred and fifty thousand livres may be continued. And we assure your Excellency, that the moment we are furnished with any other means of answering this demand, we will no longer trespass on his Majesty’s goodness.

We have further to inform your Excellency that we are empowered and instructed by congress, to borrow in Europe a sum of money to the amount of two millions sterling; which is to be appropriated to the express purpose of redeeming so many of the bills of credit in America, as will be sufficient, it is apprehended, to restore the remainder to their original value. We, therefore, request his Majesty’s permission to borrow such part of that sum in this kingdom, as we may find opportunity. Although we are empowered to offer a larger interest than is usually given by his Majesty, yet that we may not be any interruption to his Majesty’s service, we are willing and desirous of limiting the interest which we may offer, to the same that is given by his Majesty. And although most persons will choose to lend their money to his Majesty, yet there may be others desirous of forming connections of trade with the people in America, who will be willing to serve them in this way. And perhaps nothing will have a greater tendency to cement the Edition: current; Page: [27] connection between the two nations, so happily begun, or to insure to the French nation the benefits of the American trade, than relations of this kind.

By the eighth article of the treaty of commerce, his Majesty has engaged to employ his good offices and interposition with the Emperor of Morocco and with the regencies of Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, and the other powers on the coast of Barbary, in order to provide as fully as possible for the convenience and safety of the inhabitants of the United States, and their vessels and effects, against all violence, insults, attacks, or depredations on the part of the said princes.

We have received information that there are already American vessels in Italy desirous of returning home, and that there are merchants in Italy desirous of entering into the American trade, but that an apprehension of danger from the corsairs of Barbary is a discouragement. We therefore request your Excellency’s attention to this case, and such assistance from his Majesty’s good offices as was intended by the treaty.

There is another thing that has occurred of late, on which we have the honor to request your Excellency’s advice. There are many Americans in England and in other parts of Europe, some of whom are excellent citizens, who wish for nothing so much as to return to their native country, and to take their share in her fortune, whatever that may be, but are apprehensive of many difficulties in removing their property.

Whether it will be practicable and consistent with his Majesty’s interest to prescribe any mode by which Americans of the above description may be permitted to pass through this kingdom with their apparel, furniture, plate, and other effects, not merchandise for sale here, without paying duties, we submit to his wisdom.

We have the honor to be, with respect, your Excellency’s, &c.

B. Franklin,
Arthur Lee,
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [28]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
John Adams
Adams, John
10 September, 1778
Passy
M. De Beaumarchais
De Beaumarchais, M.

THE COMMISSIONERS TO M. DE BEAUMARCHAIS.

Sir,

In a letter we have received from the committee of commerce of the 16th of May, we are informed that they had ordered several vessels lately to South Carolina for rice, and directed the continental agents in that State to consign them to our address.

In the letter from Mr. Livingston to us, dated Charleston, South Carolina, 10th June, 1778, he has subjected the cargo of the Theresa to our orders.

In your letter to us, dated Passy, 8th September, 1778, you demand that the cargo arrived in your own vessel should be sold, and the money remitted to you in part for a discharge of what is due to you by the congress.

We are at a loss to know how you claim the Theresa as your proper vessel, because M. Monthieu claims her as his, produces a written contract for the hire and demurrage of her, part of which we have paid, and the remainder he now demands of us. However, sir, we beg leave to state to you the powers and instructions we have received from congress, and to request your attention to them as soon as possible, and to inform you that we are ready to enter upon the discussion of these matters at any time and place you please.

But until the accounts of the company of Roderique Hortalez & Co. are settled for what is passed, and the contract proposed either ratified by you and us, or rejected by one party, we cannot think we should be justified in remitting you the proceeds of the cargo of the Theresa.

We will, however, give orders to our agents for the sale of the cargo, and that the proceeds of the sale be reserved to be paid to the house of Roderique Hortalez & Co. or their representative, as soon as the accounts shall be settled or the contract ratified.

By a copy of a contract between a committee of congress and M. Francy, dated the 16th of April last, we perceive that the seventh article, respecting the annual supply of twenty-four millions of livres, shall not be binding upon either of the parties, unless the same shall be ratified by Roderique Hortalez Edition: current; Page: [29] & Co. and the Commissioners of the United States at Paris.

We take this opportunity to inform you, sir, that we are ready to confer with Roderique Hortalez & Co., or any person by them authorized for this purpose, at any time and place that they or you shall appoint.

We have the honor to be, sir,

Your most obedient and most humble servants,
B. Franklin,
Arthur Lee,
John Adams.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
John Adams
Adams, John
10 September, 1778
Passy
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count

THE COMMISSIONERS TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Sir,

By some of the last ships from America, we received from congress certain powers and instructions, which we think it necessary to lay before your Excellency, and which we have the honor to do in this letter.

On the 13th of April last, congress resolved, “that the commissioners of the United States in France be authorized to determine and settle with the house of Roderique Hortalez & Co. the compensation, if any, which should be allowed them on all merchandise and warlike stores, shipped by them for the use of the United States, previous to the 14th day of April, 1778, over and above the commission allowed them in the sixth article of the proposed contract between the Committee of Commerce and John Baptiste Lazarus Theveneau de Francy.”

In the letter of the Committee of Commerce to us, in which the foregoing resolution was inclosed, the Committee express themselves thus:—“This will be accompanied by a contract entered into between John Baptiste Lazarus de Theveneau de Francy, agent of Peter Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, representative of the house of Roderique Hortalez & Co. and the Committee of Commerce. You will observe that their accounts are to be fairly stated, and what is justly due paid. For as, on the one hand, congress would be unwilling to evidence a disregard for, and contemptuous refusal of, the spontaneous friendship of His Most Christian Majesty, so, on the other, they Edition: current; Page: [30] are unwilling to put into the private pockets of individuals what was gratuitously designed for the public benefit, you will be pleased to have their accounts liquidated, and direct in the liquidation thereof, that particular care be taken to distinguish the property of the crown of France from the private property of Hortalez & Co., and transmit to us the accounts so stated and distinguished. This will also be accompanied by an invoice of articles to be imported from France, and resolves of congress relative thereto. You will appoint, if you should judge proper, an agent or agents to inspect the quality of such goods as you may apply for to the house of Roderique Hortalez & Co., before they are shipped, to prevent any imposition.”

On the 16th of May last, congress resolved, “that the invoice of articles to be imported from France, together with the list of medicines approved by congress, be signed by the Committee of Commerce, and transmitted to the Commissioners of the United States at Paris, who are authorized and directed to apply to the house of Roderique Hortalez & Co. for such of the said articles as they shall not have previously purchased or contracted for;” “that copies of the invoices be delivered to Monsieur de Francy, agent for Roderique Hortalez & Co., together with a copy of the foregoing resolution;” and “that the articles to be shipped by the house of Roderique Hortalez & Co. be not insured; but that notice be given to the Commissioners in France, that they may endeavor to obtain convoy for the protection thereof.”

We have the honor to inclose to your Excellency a copy of the contract made between the Committee and Monsieur Francy, a copy of Monsieur Francy’s powers, and a copy of the list of articles to be furnished according to that contract, that your Excellency may have before you all the papers relative to this subject.

We are under the necessity of applying to your Excellency upon this occasion, and of requesting your advice. With regard to what is passed, we know not who the persons are who constitute the house of Roderique Hortalez & Co., but we have understood, and congress has ever understood, and so have the people in America in general, that they were under obligations to his Majesty’s good will for the greatest part of the merchandise and warlike stores heretofore furnished under the firm of Roderique Hortalez & Co. We cannot discover that any written Edition: current; Page: [31] contract was ever made between congress or any agent of theirs and the house of Roderique Hortalez & Co.; nor do we know of any living witness, or any other evidence, whose testimony can ascertain to us, who the persons are that constitute the house of Roderique Hortalez & Co., or what were the terms upon which the merchandise and munitions of war were supplied, neither as to the price, nor the time, or conditions of payment. As we said before, we apprehend that the United States hold themselves under obligation to his Majesty for all those supplies, and we are sure it is their wish and their determination to discharge the obligation to his Majesty, as soon as Providence shall put it in their power. In the mean time, we are ready to settle and liquidate the accounts according to our instructions at any time, and in any manner which his Majesty or your Excellency shall point out to us.

As the contract for future supplies is to be ratified or not ratified by us, as we shall judge expedient, we must request your Excellency’s advice as a favor upon this head, and whether it would be safe or prudent in us to ratify it, and in congress to depend upon supplies from this quarter. Because, if we should depend upon this resource for supplies, and be disappointed, the consequences would be fatal to our country.

We have the honor to be, &c.
B. Franklin,
Arthur Lee,
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
15 September, 1778
Passy
M. Le Ray De Chaumont
De Chaumont, M. Le Ray

TO M. LE RAY DE CHAUMONT.

Sir,

As our finances are, at present, in a situation seriously critical, and as I hold myself accountable to congress for every part of my conduct, even to the smallest article of my expenses. I must beg the favor of you to consider what rent we ought to pay you for this house and furniture, both for the time past and to come. Every part of your conduct towards me and towards our Americans in general, and in all our affairs, has been polite [Editor:?] and obliging, as far as I have had an opportunity of observing, and I have no doubt it will continue so; yet it is not reasonable Edition: current; Page: [32] that the United States should be under so great an obligation to a private gentleman, as that two of their representatives should occupy for so long a time so elegant a seat, with so much furniture and so fine accommodations, without any compensation; and in order to avoid the danger of the disapprobation of our constituents on the one hand, for living here at too great or at too uncertain an expense, and on the other, the censure of the world for not making sufficient compensation to a gentleman who has done so much for our convenience, it seems to me necessary that we should come to an éclaircissement upon this head.

As you have an account against the Commissioners, or against the United States, for several other matters, I should also be obliged to you, if you would send it in as soon as possible, as every day renders it more and more necessary for us to look into our affairs with the utmost precision.

I am, sir, with much esteem and respect,

Your most obedient, humble servant,
John Adams.
M. Le Ray De Chaumont
De Chaumont, M. Le Ray
18 September, 1778
Passy
John Adams
Adams, John

M. LE RAY DE CHAUMONT TO JOHN ADAMS.
(Translation.)

Sir,

I have received the letter which you did me the honor to write to me on the 15th instant, making inquiry as to the rent of my house, in which you live, for the past and the future. When I consecrated my house to Dr. Franklin and his associates, who might live with him, I made it fully understood that I should expect no compensation, because I perceived that you had need of all your means to send to the succor of your country, or to relieve your countrymen escaping from the chains of your enemies. I pray you, sir, to permit this arrangement to remain, which I made when the fate of your country was doubtful. When she shall enjoy all her splendor, such sacrifices on my part will be superfluous, and unworthy of her, but at present, they may be useful, and I am most happy in obliging them to you.

There is no occasion for strangers, since you desire to avoid Edition: current; Page: [33] their strictures, to be informed of my proceeding in this respect. It is so much the worse for those who would not do the same if they had the opportunity, and so much the better for me to have immortalized my house, by receiving into it Dr. Franklin and his associates.

I have the honor to be, sir, with the most perfect respect, &c.

Le Ray de Chaumont.
M. De Sartine
De Sartine, M.
16 September, 1778
Versailles

M. DE SARTINE TO THE COMMISSIONERS.
(Translation.)

Gentlemen,

I have received the letter which you did me the honor to write to me on the subject of the French ship Isabella, which the American privateer, General Mifflin, recaptured from a Guernsey privateer.

In the General Thesis you may see the provisions of the ordinance of the marine of 1681, which adjudges to captors, the recaptured vessels, when they have been during twenty-four hours in the enemy’s hands, and which grants only a third for the charges of rescue, when they are retaken before the twenty-four hours. The American privateers shall enjoy in France, without difficulty, the benefit of this law, if it has been adopted by the United States in such a manner, as that the French privateers may be assured of experiencing the same treatment, with respect to the recaptures they may conduct into the ports of North America.

The English laws, on the contrary, grant a privateer only one eighth of the value of the vessels retaken within the first twenty-four hours, a fifth within the second day, a third within the third and fourth, and afterwards one half, which leaves at least, in every case, the other half to the losing proprietors. It is possible that the United States, as these laws are less advantageous to the privateers, and more favorable to the original proprietors of recaptured vessels, would give the preference to those of France.

In these circumstances, the rules of reciprocity observed between the two powers require that arrangements be made Edition: current; Page: [34] to adopt the law of one of the two nations, which shall be observed by the respective privateers; and, in the mean time, I am persuaded you think with me that the American privateer, General Mifflin, ought not to exact in France more than the same advantage which, in a similar case, a French privateer would enjoy in North America.

This discussion, moreover, will not perhaps apply in the particular affair in question. I am just informed that the French proprietor claims his vessel as retaken from pirates, offering to pay a third of its value to the American privateer which delivered it. This is agreeable to the tenth article, under the title of Prizes, of the ordinance of 1681, which appears justly applicable to this particular case. If it should be found that the Guernsey privateer falls under the description of those pirates, whose depredations have obliged his Majesty to order general reprisals, and that she has not been furnished with new letters of marque, which the Court of London did not grant before the month of August, to cruise against French vessels, as appears from the declaration of the captain of the Isabella, this question will be necessarily submitted to the decision of the tribunals; and I could do no otherwise than see that the most prompt justice be rendered to the American privateer. I request, in any case, that you will be pleased to give me your opinion on the principal question, assuming the laws of the two nations to be different, with respect to reprisals or rescues.

I have the honor to be, &c.
De Sartine.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
John Adams
Adams, John
17 September, 1778
Passy
M. De Sartine
De Sartine, M.

THE COMMISSIONERS TO M. DE SARTINE.

Sir,

We have this morning the honor of your Excellency’s letter of the 16th, relative to the French brigantine, the Isabella, retaken by the American privateer, the General Mifflin, from a Guernsey privateer, after having been eighty hours in his hands.

We have the honor to agree perfectly with your Excellency in your sentiments of the justice and policy of the principle of reciprocity between the two nations, and that this principle Edition: current; Page: [35] requires that French ships of war or privateers should have the same advantage, in case of rescues and recaptures, that the American privateers enjoy in France.

We are so unfortunate at present, as to have no copy of any of the laws of the United States, relative to such cases, and are not able to recollect, with precision, the regulations in any of them. But we are informed by Captain M’Neil, that by the law of Massachusetts Bay, if a vessel is retaken within twenty-four hours, one third goes to the recaptors; after twenty-four hours until seventy-two hours, one half; after seventy-two hours and before ninety-six hours, three quarters; and after ninety-six hours, the whole.

All that we have power to do in this case is, to convey to congress a copy of your Excellency’s letter and of our answer, and we have no doubt but congress will readily recommend to the several States to make laws, giving to French privateers either the same advantages that their own privateers have in such cases, in their own ports, or the same advantages that the French privateers enjoy in the ports of this kingdom in such cases, by the ordinance of the King. And we wish your Excellency would signify to us, which would probably be most agreeable to his Majesty. If the case of this vessel must come before the public tribunals, upon the simple question, whether she was retaken from a pirate or not, that tribunal, we doubt not, will decide with impartiality; but we cannot refrain from expressing to your Excellency, that we think the original owner will be ill advised if he should put himself to this trouble and expense.

We presume not to dispute the wisdom of the ordinance of the King, which gives to the recaptor from a pirate only one third; because we know not the species of pirates which was then in contemplation, nor the motives to that regulation. But your Excellency will permit us to observe, that this regulation is so different from the general practice and from the spirit of the law of nations, that there is no doubt it ought to receive a strict interpretation, and that it is incumbent on the original proprietor to make it very evident that the first captor was a pirate.

In the case in question, the Guernsey privateer certainly had a commission from the King of Great Britain to cruise against American vessels at least. But admitting, for argument’s sake, that he had no commission at all, the question arises, whether the Edition: current; Page: [36] two nations of France and England are at war or not. And, although there has been no formal declaration of war on either side, yet there seems to be little doubt that the two nations have been at actual war, at least from the time of the mutual recall of their ambassadors, if not from the moment of the British King’s most warlike speech to his parliament.

Now, if it be admitted that the two nations are at war, we believe it would be without a precedent in the history of jurisprudence, to adjudge the subjects of any nation to be guilty of piracy for any act of hostility committed at sea against the subjects of another nation at war. Such a principle, for what we see, would conclude all the admirals and other officers of both nations guilty of the same offence.

It is not the want of a commission, as we humbly conceive, that makes a man guilty of piracy; but committing hostilities against human kind; at least, against a nation not at war.

Commissions are but one species of evidence that nations are at war. But there are many other ways of proving the same thing.

Subjects and citizens, it is true, are forbidden by most civilized nations to arm vessels for cruising even against enemies without a commission from the sovereign; but it is upon penalty of confiscation or some other, perhaps, milder punishment, not on the penalties of piracy.

Moreover, perhaps, prizes made upon enemies by subjects or citizens, without commission from their sovereigns, may belong to the sovereign, not to the captors, by the laws of most nations; but, perhaps, no nation ever punished as pirates their own subjects or citizens for making a prize from an enemy without a commission.

We beg your Excellency’s pardon for detaining you so long from objects of more importance,

And have the honor to be, &c.
B. Franklin,
Arthur Lee,
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [37]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
John Adams
Adams, John
17 September, 1778
Passy

THE COMMISSIONERS TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

The last letter which we have had the honor to write jointly to congress, was of the 20th of July, and as we have sent several copies of it by different opportunities, we hope one of them, at least, will get safe to hand. Since our last, there has been an important action at sea between two very powerful fleets, in which, in our opinion, the French had a manifest and great advantage. But as all the newspapers in Europe are full of this transaction, and we have taken, in our separate capacities, every opportunity to transmit these papers to congress, we think it needless to be more particular concerning that event in this letter.

The French fleet, on the 11th of last month, again put to sea, and on the 22d Admiral Keppel sailed. By the best intelligence from London the populace are amused, and the public funds are supported, by hopes given out by administration, of peace, by an acknowledgment of American independency. But, as the credulity of that nation has no bounds, we can draw no inference from this general opinion, that such is the intention of government. We suppose that rumor to be a consequence of the insidious determination of the cabinet, to propose independence on condition of a separate peace.

We are here, at this moment, in a state of the most anxious and critical suspense, having heard nothing from Count d’Estaing, nor from America, since the 11th of July.

Congress will be informed by Mr. Arthur Lee, respecting the Court of Spain.

We have taken measures in Amsterdam for borrowing money of the Dutch, but what success we shall have we cannot yet say. We have also asked leave of this government to borrow money in this kingdom, but having no answer, we cannot say whether we shall get permission or not. We have yesterday applied for a continuation of the quarterly payment of seven hundred and fifty thousand livres; what the answer will be we know not; if it is in the negative, the consequence must be very plain to congress and to us. It is at all times wisest and safest, both for the representative and his constituent, to be candid, and we should Edition: current; Page: [38] think ourselves criminal if we should disguise our just apprehensions.

Congress then will be pleased to be informed that all the powers of Europe are now armed, or arming themselves, by land or sea, or both, as there seems to be a universal apprehension of a general war. Such is the situation of European nations at least, that no one can arm itself without borrowing money. Besides this, the Emperor and King of Prussia are at actual war. All this together has produced this effect,—that France, England, the Emperor, Spain, Prussia, at least, are borrowing money, and there is not one of them, that we can learn, but offers better interest than the United States have offered. There can be no motive, then, but simple benevolence, to lend to us.

Applications have been frequently made to us by Americans, who have been some time abroad, to administer the oath of allegiance to the United States, and to give them certificates that they have taken such oaths. In three instances we have yielded to their importunity,—in the case of Mr. Moore, of New Jersey, who has a large property in the East Indies, which he designs to transfer immediately to America; in the case of Mr. Woodford, of Virginia, a brother of General Woodford, who has been some time in Italy, and means to return to America with his property; and yesterday, in the case of Mr. Montgomery, of Philadelphia, who is settled at Alicant, in Spain, but wishes to send vessels and cargoes of his own property to America. We have given our opinions to these gentlemen frankly, that such certificates are in strictness legally void, because there is no act of congress that expressly gives us power to administer oaths. We have also given two or three commissions, by means of the blanks with which congress intrusted us,—one to Mr. Livingston, and one to Mr. Amiel, to be lieutenants in the navy,—and in these cases we have ventured to administer the oaths of allegiance. We have also, in one instance, administered the oath of secrecy to one of our secretaries, and perhaps it is necessary to administer such an oath, as well as that of allegiance, to all persons whom we may be obliged, in the extensive correspondence we maintain, to employ. We hope we shall not have the disapprobation of congress for what, in this way, has been done, but we wish for explicit powers and instructions upon this head.

Edition: current; Page: [39]

There are, among the multitude of Americans who are scattered about the various parts of Europe, some, we hope many, who are excellent citizens, who wish to take the oath of allegiance, and to have some mode prescribed by which they may be enabled to send their vessels and cargoes to America with safety from their own friends,—American men-of-war and privateers. Will it not be practicable for congress to prescribe some mode of giving registers to ships, some mode of evidence to ascertain the property of cargoes, by which it might be made to appear to the cruisers and to courts of admiralty, that the property belonged to Americans abroad? If congress should appoint consuls, could not some power be given to them, or would congress empower their commissioners or any others? Several persons from England have applied to us to go to America; they profess to be friends to liberty, to republics, to America; they wish to take their lot with her, to take the oath of allegiance to the States, and to go over with their property. We hope to have instructions upon this head, and a mode pointed out for us to proceed in.

In observance of our instruction to inquire into M. Holker’s authority, we waited on his Excellency, the Count de Vergennes, presented him with an extract of the letter concerning him, and requested to know what authority M. Holker had. His Excellency’s answer to us was, that he was surprised; for that M. Holker had no verbal commission from the ministry; but that M. de Vergennes, being informed that M. Holker was going to America, desired him to write to him, from time to time, the state of things and the temper of the people.

We have given orders to M. Bondfield, at Bordeaux, to ship to America twenty-eight 24-pounders, and twenty-eight 18-pounders, according to our instructions. By his answer to us, it will take some little time, perhaps two or three months, to get those cannon at a good rate, and in good condition.

Our distance from congress obliges us very often to act without express instructions upon points in which we should be very glad to have their orders. One example of which is,—the case of the American prisoners in England. Numbers have been taken and confined in jails; others, especially masters of vessels, are set at liberty. We are told that there are still five hundred in England. Many have escaped from their prisons, who make Edition: current; Page: [40] their way to Paris, some by the way of Holland, others by Dunkirk, and others by means of smuggling vessels in other ports of this kingdom. They somehow get money to give jailers, in order to escape; then they take up money in England, in Holland, in Dunkirk, and elsewhere, to bear their expenses to Paris; then they apply to us to pay these past expenses, and to furnish them money to defray their expenses to Nantes, Brest, and other seaport towns. When arrived there, they apply to the American agent for more money; besides this, bills of their drawing are brought to us from Holland and other places. All this makes a large branch of expense. We have no orders to advance money in these cases, yet we have ventured to advance considerable sums; but the demands that are coming upon us from all quarters, are likely to exceed so vastly all our resources, that we must request positive directions, whether we are to advance money to any prisoners whatever. If to any, whether to masters and seamen of private merchant vessels, and to officers and crews of privateers, as well as to officers and men in the continental service. We have taken unwearied pains, and have put the United States to very considerable expense, in order to give satisfaction to these people; but all we have done has not the effect; we are perpetually told of discontented speeches, and we often receive peevish letters from these persons in one place and another, that they are not treated with so much respect as they expected, nor furnished with so much money as they wanted. We should not regard these reflections, if we had the orders of congress.

We have the honor to be, &c.
B. Franklin,
Arthur Lee,
John Adams.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
John Adams
Adams, John
20 September, 1778
Passy

TO THE AMERICAN PRISONERS IN FORTON, PLYMOUTH, OR ELSEWHERE IN GREAT BRITAIN.

Gentlemen,

Although we have not written to you directly for some time, you may be assured we have not been unmindful Edition: current; Page: [41] of your interests, your comfort, or your liberty. We have been engaged a long time in negotiating a cartel of exchange. This work we found attended with many difficulties, but at last have obtained assurances from England that an exchange shall take place. We have also obtained from the government of this kingdom, a passport for a vessel to come from England to Nantes or Lorient with American prisoners, there to take in British prisoners in exchange. We now sincerely hope that you will obtain your liberty. We cannot certainly say, however, that all will be immediately exchanged, because we fear we have not an equal number to send to England. Those that remain, if any, will be those who have been the latest in captivity, and consequently have suffered the least.

While the British government refused to make any agreement of exchange, the commissioners here never discouraged their countrymen from escaping from the prisons in England, but, on the contrary, have lent small sums of money, sufficient, with great economy, to bear their expenses to some seaport, to such as have made their way hither. But, if the British government should honorably keep their agreement to make a regular exchange, we shall not think it consistent with the honor of the United States to encourage such escapes, or to give any assistance to such as shall escape. Such escapes hereafter would have a tendency to excite the British administration to depart from the cartel, to treat the prisoners that remain with more rigor, and to punish those that escape, if retaken, with more severity.

On the other hand, we have now obtained permission of this government to put all British prisoners, whether taken by continental frigates or by privateers, into the King’s prisons, and we are determined to treat such prisoners precisely as our countrymen are treated in England, to give them the same allowance of provisions and accommodations, and no other. We, therefore, request you to inform us with exactness what your allowance is from the government, that we may govern ourselves accordingly.

We have the honor to be, with much respect and affection,

Your countrymen and humble servants,
B. Franklin,
Arthur Lee,
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [42]
John Adams
Adams, John
20 September, 1778
Passy
Ralph Izard
Izard, Ralph

TO RALPH IZARD.

Dear Sir,

You have once or twice mentioned to me, in conversation, certain expressions in the treaty, relative to the fishery on the Banks of Newfoundland, which you apprehend may be liable to different constructions, and become the subject of controversy, if not the cause of war; but as it is very possible I may not have perfectly comprehended your meaning, I should be much obliged to you, if you would state it in writing, together with the historical facts, which are fresh in your memory, for the illustration of it.

If I understood you, your apprehension arises from the tenth article of the treaty.

“The United States, their citizens and inhabitants, shall never disturb the subjects of the most Christian King in the enjoyment and exercise of the right of fishing on the Banks of Newfoundland, nor in the indefinite and exclusive right which belongs to them on that part of the coast of that island which is designed by the treaty of Utrecht, nor in the rights relative to all and each of the isles which belong to His Most Christian Majesty; the whole conformable to the true sense of the treaties of Utrecht and Paris.

“Les États Unis, leurs citoyens et habitans, ne troubleront jamais les sujets du roi très chrétien, dans la jouissance et exercice du droit de pêche sur les bancs de Terre-neuve, non plus que dans la jouissance indéfinie et exclusive qui leur appartient sur la partie des côtes de cette isle designée dans le traité d’Utrecht, ni dans les droits rélatifs à toutes et chacune des isles qui appartiennent à sa Majesté très chrétienne; le tout conformément au véritable sens des traités d’Utrecht et de Paris.”

You mentioned to me the names of two places, from the one of which to the other, the French formerly claimed a right to fish and to exclude all other nations, and that such a right was claimed in the negotiation of the last peace, and you was apprehensive that such a claim might in future times be revived.

I should be very happy to receive your sentiments fully upon this subject, as it is no doubt of importance to us all.

I am, with much esteem and affection,
Your friend and humble servant,
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [43]
John Adams
Adams, John
22 September, 1778
Passy
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin

TO BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.

Sir,

Upon looking over the account of the expenditure of the money for which we have jointly drawn upon the banker, since my arrival at Passy, I find some articles charged for similar ones to which I have paid in my separate capacity. I do not mean to be difficult about these things, but that we may have a plan for the future, I beg leave to propose, that the wages and expenses of the maître d’hôtel and cook, and of all the servants, their clothes, and every other expense for them, the wages, clothes, and other expenses of the coachman, the hire of the horses and carriage, the expenses of postage of letters, of expresses to Versailles and Paris and elsewhere, of stationary ware, and all the expenses of the family, should be paid out of the money to be drawn from the banker by our joint order. If to these Dr. Franklin chooses to add the washerwoman’s accounts for our servants, &c. as well as ourselves, I have no objection; receipts to be taken for payments of money, and each party furnished with a copy of the account and a sight of the receipts once a month, if he desires it. The expenses of a clerk for each may be added, if Dr. Franklin pleases, or this may be a separate expense, as he chooses. Expenses for clothes, books, and other things, and transient pocket expenses, to be separate. Or, if any other plan is more agreeable to Dr. Franklin, Mr. Adams begs him to propose it. The accounts for our sons at school may be added, if Dr. Franklin chooses it, to the general account, or otherwise. For my own part, when I left America, I expected, and had no other thought, but to be at the expense of my son’s subsistence and education here in my private capacity, and I shall still be very contented to do this, if congress should desire it. But while other gentlemen are maintaining and educating large families here, and enjoying the exquisite felicity of their company at the same time, perhaps congress may think it proper to allow this article to us as well as to them; and I am sure I do not desire it, nor would I choose to accept it, if it was not allowed to others, although, perhaps, the duties, labors, and anxieties of our station may be greater than those of others.

I am, sir, your inmate, and most obedient servant,
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [44]
Ralph Izard
Izard, Ralph
24 September, 1778
Paris
John Adams
Adams, John

RALPH IZARD TO JOHN ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

I must apologize for not having given you an immediate answer to your letter of the 20th instant, which would have been the case, if I had not been much employed in writing, on account of the sudden departure of Mr. Blake for Nantes. It has been my constant wish, that, as soon as Great Britain shall be compelled, by the virtuous exertions of our countrymen, to abandon her plans of conquest, we may enjoy the blessings of peace, uninterrupted by disputes with any power whatsoever. Contentions with France ought, above all others, to be avoided, from every consideration. It is upon this account that I have suffered great uneasiness from some articles in the treaties with this court, which I fear will, in some future day, be productive of much discontent and mischief. Two of those articles have been pointed out by congress, and by their direction have been altered. The little time which was spent in examining the treaties may be the reason why some other parts may have escaped their attention; and I wish they may not occur to them when it is too late. Had the “alterations that were proposed on either side” to be made from the treaty originally transmitted by congress to the commissioners at this Court, been communicated to me, some good might possibly have been derived from it. I have no doubt but it was the indispensable duty of those gentlemen to have made such communication, and if any evils should be sustained in consequence of their persisting in their refusal to make them, in spite of every application on my part, they ought to be answerable for them to their country. This, however, is not the proper time nor place for the discussion of these points. I shall, therefore, proceed to take notice of that part of the treaty only, which you have done me the honor to ask my sentiments upon.

The eighth article of the original treaty, proposed by congress, contains the following words:—“The Most Christian King shall retain the same rights of fishery on the Banks of Newfoundland, and all other rights relating to any of the said islands, which he is entitled to by virtue of the treaty of Paris.”

The thirteenth article of the treaty of Utrecht contains the Edition: current; Page: [45] following:—“It shall be allowed to the subjects of France to catch fish and to dry them on land, in that part only, and in no other besides that, of the said island of Newfoundland, which stretches from the place called Cape Bonavista to the northern point of the said island, and from thence, running down by the western side, reaches as far as the place called Point Riche.”

The French pretended that, in consequence of the above article, they had an exclusive right to fish on such parts of the coast of Newfoundland as are therein described, but the claim was never admitted by England; indeed, the treaty of Utrecht does not afford any grounds for such a claim. The fifth article of the treaty of Paris says,—“The subjects of France shall have the liberty of fishing and drying on a part of the coasts of the island of Newfoundland, such as it is specified in the thirteenth article of the treaty of Utrecht.” The words “indefinite and exclusive right” make no part of either of the above treaties, yet they are inserted in the tenth article of our treaty of commerce; and that it may seem as though no innovation was intended, that right is claimed as having been “designed” in the treaty of Utrecht; and the whole is to be [not such as it is specified, but] conformable to the “true sense” of the treaties of Utrecht and Paris. Perhaps my apprehensions on this subject may be groundless; and should that not be the case, perhaps they may be useless. I am induced to mention this last observation, by the conversation I had with you about the fishery at Mr. Bertin’s, at Passy, in which we differed totally respecting the importance of it to America in general, and particularly to the state of Massachusetts Bay. You were of opinion, that the fishery was not only an object of no consequence, but that it was, and always would be, a prejudice to New England. If this should really be the case, some consolation may be derived from it, when the probability of being excluded from part of it is considered. Since the advantages of commerce have been well understood, the fisheries have been looked upon by the naval powers of Europe as an object of the greatest importance. The French have been increasing their fishery ever since the treaty of Utrecht, which has enabled them to rival Great Britain at sea. The fisheries of Holland were not only the first rise of the republic, but have been the constant support of all her commerce and navigation. This branch of trade is of such concern Edition: current; Page: [46] to the Dutch, that in their public prayers, they are said to request the Supreme Being “that it would please Him to bless the government, the lords, the states, and also their fisheries.” The fishery of Newfoundland appears to me to be a mine of infinitely greater value than Mexico and Peru. It enriches the proprietors, is worked at less expense, and is the source of naval strength and protection. I have, therefore, thought it my duty to give my sentiments on this subject to my friend, Mr. Laurens. If my reasons appear to him to have any weight, it is probable they may be communicated to the delegates of those States who will be more immediately affected. If not, they will be suppressed, as they ought to be, and neither they, nor any body else, will be troubled with them.

I am, dear sir, with great regard,
Your friend and humble servant,
R. Izard.
John Adams
Adams, John
25 September, 1778
Passy
Ralph Izard
Izard, Ralph

TO RALPH IZARD.

Sir,

I have received with much pleasure your favor of yesterday’s date. No apology was necessary for the delay of so few days to answer a letter, the contents of which did not, from any public consideration, require haste. My most fervent wishes mingle themselves with yours, that the happy time may soon arrive when we may enjoy the blessings of peace, uninterrupted by disputes with any power whatever. But alas! my apprehensions are very strong that we are yet at a distance from so great a felicity.

You will readily acknowledge the impropriety of my entering into the question concerning the duty of the commissioners here to have made the communications of the treaty which you mention. But of this you may be assured, that I shall at all times hold myself obliged to you for the communication of your sentiments upon any public affair. I am, therefore, sorry that in your letter you have confined yourself to that part of the treaty upon which I particularly requested your sentiments. And I now take the liberty to request your sentiments upon every part of the treaty which you conceive liable to doubtful construction, or capable of producing discontent or dispute; for Edition: current; Page: [47] I have the honor to be fully of your opinion, that it is of very great importance to be upon our guard, and avoid every cause of controversy with France as much as possible. She is, and will be, in spite of the obstacles of language, of customs, religion, and government, our natural ally against Great Britain as long as she shall continue our enemy, and that will be at least as long as she shall hold a foot of ground in America, however she may disguise it, and whatever peace or truce she may make.

You have mortified me much, by mentioning a conversation at M. Bertin’s, which, if you understood me perfectly, and remember it right, had either too much of philosophy or of rodomontade for a politician, especially for a representative of the United States of America, and more especially still, for a citizen of the Massachusetts Bay.

Your sentiments of the fishery, as a source of wealth, of commerce, and naval power, are perfectly just, and, therefore, this object will and ought to be attended to with precision, and cherished with care. Nevertheless, agriculture is the most essential interest of America, and even of the Massachusetts Bay, and it is very possible to injure both, by diverting too much of the thoughts and labor of the people from the cultivation of the earth to adventures upon the sea. And this, in the opinion of some persons, has been a fault in the Massachusetts Bay. Experience has taught us in the course of this war, that the fishery was not so essential to our welfare as it was once thought. Necessity has taught us to dig in the ground instead of fishing in the sea for our bread, and we have found that the resource did not fail us.

The fishery was a source of luxury and vanity that did us much injury; yet this was the fault of the management, not of the fishery. One part of our fish went to the West India Islands for rum, and molasses to distil into rum, which injured our health and our morals; the other part went to Spain and Portugal for gold and silver, almost the whole of which went to London, sometimes for valuable articles of clothing, but too often for lace and ribbons. If, therefore, the cessation of the fishery, for twenty years to come, was to introduce the culture of flax and wool, which it certainly would do so far as would be necessary for the purposes of decency and comfort, if Edition: current; Page: [48] a loss of wealth should be the consequence of it, the acquisition of morals and of wisdom would perhaps make us gainers in the end.

These are vain speculations, I know. The taste for rum and ribbons will continue, and there are no means for the New England people to obtain them so convenient as the fishery, and, therefore, the first opportunity will be eagerly embraced to revive it. As a nursery of seamen and a source of naval power, it has been and is an object of serious importance, and perhaps indispensably necessary to the accomplishment and the preservation of our independence.1 I shall, therefore, always think it my duty to defend and secure our rights to it with all industry and zeal, and shall ever be obliged to you for your advice and coöperation.

Pardon the length of this letter, and believe me, with much esteem,

Your friend and servant,
John Adams.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
Saturday, 26 September, 1778
Passy
John Adams
Adams, John

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN TO JOHN ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

I very much approve your plan with regard to our future accounts, and wish it to be followed.

The accounts that have been shown you are only those of the person we had intrusted with the receiving and paying our money, and intended merely to show how he was discharged of it. We are to separate from that account the articles for which congress should be charged, and those for which we should give credit.

Edition: current; Page: [49]

It has always been my intention to pay for the education of my children, their clothes, &c., as well as for books and other things for my private use; and whatever I spend in this way I shall give congress credit for, to be deducted out of the allowance they have promised us. But as the article of clothes for ourselves here is necessarily much higher than if we were not in public service, I submit it to your consideration, whether that article ought not to be reckoned among expenses for the public. I know I had clothes enough at home to have lasted me my lifetime in a country where I was under small necessity of following new fashions.

I shall be out of town till Monday. When I return, we will, if you please, talk further of these matters, and put the accounts in the order they are hereafter to be kept.

With great esteem, I am
Your most obedient, humble servant,
B. Franklin.1

I inclose a letter just received from Mr. Ross. Some answer should be sent him; I have not had time. Inclosed are his late letters. If any good news arrive, my servant may be sent express to me with it.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
John Adams
Adams, John
26 September, 1778
Passy
William Lee
Lee, William

THE COMMISSIONERS TO WILLIAM LEE.

Sir,

We have considered with some attention the papers which you have laid before us, containing a project of a treaty to be made between the Republic of the United Provinces and that of the United States of America.

As congress have intrusted to us the authority of treating with all the States of Europe, excepting such as have particular commissioners designated by congress to treat with them; and as no particular commissioner has been appointed to treat with their High Mightinesses, we have already taken such measures as appeared to us suitable to accomplish so desirable a purpose Edition: current; Page: [50] as a friendship between two nations so circumstanced as to have it in their power to be extremely beneficial to each other in promoting their mutual prosperity. And we propose to continue our endeavors in every way consistent with the honor and interest of both.

But we do not think it prudent, for many reasons, to express at present any decided opinion concerning the project of a treaty, which you have done us the honor to communicate to us.

We cannot, however, conclude without expressing a ready disposition to treat upon an object which, besides laying the foundation of an extensive commerce between the two countries, would have a very forcible tendency to stop the effusion of human blood, and prevent the further progress of the flames of war.

We have the honor to be, with the utmost respect, sir,

Your most obedient, humble servant,
B. Franklin,
Arthur Lee,
John Adams.
Ralph Izard
Izard, Ralph
28 September, 1778
Paris
John Adams
Adams, John

RALPH IZARD TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

I am favored with your letter of 25th, and agree with you in opinion that there is no necessity of discussing the question respecting the commissioners now; inconveniences might rise from it, and no valuable purpose could be answered that I know of. I agree with you, likewise, if the fishery of New England has proved injurious by introducing luxury and vanity, it must be the fault of the people, rather than of the fishery. If the quantity of money which is acquired by the fishery affords an argument for the discontinuance of it, I am afraid it may be applied with equal propriety against every other industrious means of introducing wealth into the state. The passion for ribbons and lace may easily be checked by a few wholesome sumptuary laws; and the money that has hitherto been employed on those articles will be found very useful toward sinking Edition: current; Page: [51] our enormous national debt. This debt, I fear, will not be sunk during my life; till that is done, I do not think that any danger to our morals is to be apprehended from our excessive riches.

I should be obliged to you, if you would let me know, whether you think the reasons which were given in my last letter, respecting the treaties, are well founded. I am very willing to communicate my sentiments to you on the other articles; but submit it to you, whether it would not be better that this should be done verbally, rather than by letter.

I have the honor to be, with much esteem,
Your friend and humble servant,
R. Izard.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
John Adams
Adams, John
30 September, 1778
Passy
John Ross
Ross, John

THE COMMISSIONERS TO JOHN ROSS.

Sir,

We have received your letter of the 22d of September, and take this opportunity to say, that we have no authority either to give you orders or advice, any further than respects the large sum of money which the commissioners put into your hands some time ago. Of the expenditure of this money we have demanded an account, which you have refused to give us.

With your private concerns we have nothing to do. If you have any power derived from the honorable committee of congress, to that committee you must be responsible, and look for instructions. We can never justify interfering in those affairs, much less could we be justified in advancing more money to a gentleman who has refused to give us an account of a large sum already intrusted to him, not to mention the circumstances of indecency with which that refusal was accompanied, and with which most of your letters since have been filled. We return you the original contract which you inclosed to us some time ago. That you may save yourself for the future the trouble of writing letters to us, we now assure you, that it is our fixed determination to have nothing further to do with you, or any affairs under your care, until you have laid before us and settled your account of the public money you have received from Edition: current; Page: [52] the commissioners, unless we have instructions from congress, which, with the most perfect attention, we shall ever observe.

We are, sir, your humble servants,
B. Franklin,
Arthur Lee,
John Adams.

P. S. It is proper you should be informed, that there appears, from Mr. Williams’s accounts, to have been a further advance made to you of twenty thousand livres, for which we likewise expect you will, without delay, account with us.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
John Adams
Adams, John
1 October, 1778
Passy
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count

THE COMMISSIONERS TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Sir,

We have received the letter which your Excellency did us the honor to write to us on the 27th of last month, together with a copy of a letter from the Minister of the Marine to your Excellency, of the 21st of the same month.

Convinced of the propriety of those éclaircissements which his Excellency demands, we had recourse to our various instructions from congress, and although we have power and instructions to treat and conclude treaties with all the European powers, to whom no particular minister has been sent by congress, yet we cannot find that our powers extend to conclude treaties with the Barbary States.

We are, nevertheless, instructed to endeavor to obtain passes for vessels of the United States and their subjects from those powers, through the mediation and influence of His Most Christian Majesty, which we therefore request his Excellency to endeavor to procure, provided he sees no danger in the attempt, or material objections to it.

We have, however, the honor to agree with his Excellency in opinion, that an acknowledgment of the independence of the United States, on the part of those powers, and a treaty of commerce between them and us, would be beneficial to both, and a negotiation to that end not unlikely to succeed; because there has been heretofore some trade between them and us, in the course of which our people and vessels were well received.

Edition: current; Page: [53]

We therefore submit to his Excellency’s judgment, either to commence a negotiation for passes for American vessels immediately, or to wait until we can write to congress and obtain power to treat with those States and conclude treaties of commerce with them, when we shall request to commence and conduct the negotiation through the mediation and under the auspices of his Majesty. We have the honor to request his Excellency’s advice hereupon.

We address this to your Excellency, as we have done many other things, which we suppose must be referred to other departments, because your Excellency being the Minister for Foreign Affairs, we have understood that we have no right to apply in the first instance to any other. But if we have been misinformed and ill-advised in this, and there is no impropriety in our making immediate application to other ministers upon subjects we know to be in their departments, we request your Excellency to give us an intimation of it; and for the future we will avoid giving unnecessary trouble to your Excellency.

We have the honor to be,
With sentiments of most entire respect,
B. Franklin,
Arthur Lee,
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
2 October, 1778
Passy
Ralph Izard
Izard, Ralph

TO RALPH IZARD.

Sir,

I have the pleasure of yours of the 28th, and agree with you in sentiment, that if the money which has heretofore been squandered upon articles of luxury could for the future be applied to discharge our national debt, it would be a great felicity. But is it certain that it will? Will not the national debt itself be the means, at least a temptation to continue, if not increase the luxury? It is with great pleasure that I see you mention sumptuary laws. But is there room to hope that our legislators will pass such laws? or that the people have, or can be persuaded to acquire those qualities that are necessary to execute such laws? I wish your answer may be in the Edition: current; Page: [54] affirmative, and that it may be found true in fact and experience. But much prudence and delicacy will be necessary, I think, to bring all our countrymen to this just way of thinking upon this head. There is such a charm to the human heart in elegance, it is so flattering to our self-love to be distinguished from the world in general by extraordinary degrees of splendor in dress, in furniture, equipage, buildings, &c., and our countrymen, by their connection with Europe, are so much infected with the habit of this taste and these passions, that I fear it will be a work of time and difficulty, if not quite impracticable, to introduce an alteration; to which, besides, the great inequalities of fortune, introduced by the late condition of our trade and currency, and the late enterprises of privateers, are dangerous enemies.

You ask my opinion, whether the reasons in your last letter are well founded. It is observable that the French Court were not content with the treaty proposed by congress, which contained all, in my opinion, which is contained in the article as it now stands in the treaty of the 6th of February. What motive they had for inserting the words “indefinite and exclusive,” is left to conjecture.1 The suspicion, that they meant more than the treaty proposed by congress expressed, arises from a fact which you remember, namely,—that the French at the time of the last peace claimed more. I wish to know, if there is any letter or memorial extant, in which such a claim is contained, or whether it was only a verbal claim made by their ambassadors; whether any of the magazines of that time mention and discuss any such claim. If the fact is incontestable that they made such a claim, it is possible that it may be revived under the words “indefinite and exclusive.” But I hope it will not, and I hope it was not intended when these words were inserted. Yet I confess I cannot think of any other reason for inserting them. The word indefinite is not amiss, for it is a right of catching fish and drying them on land, which is a right indefinite enough. But the word exclusive is more mysterious. It cannot mean that Americans and all other nations shall be Edition: current; Page: [55] “excluded” from the same right of fishing and drying on land, between the same limits of Bonavista and Riche. It would be much easier to suppose that the following words, “in that part only, and in no other besides that,” gave rise to the word exclusive; that is, that right of fishing and drying within those limits, for which we have excluded ourselves from all others. I will undertake to show better reasons, or at least as good, for this sense of the word exclusive, as the most subtle interpreter of treaties can offer for the other, although I think them both untenable.

My opinion further is this,—that as contemporaneous exposition is allowed by all writers on the law of nations to be the best interpreter of treaties, as well as of all other writings, and as neither the treaty of Utrecht, nor the treaty of Paris in 1763, ever received such an interpretation as you are apprehensive may hereafter be contended for, and as the uninterrupted practice has been against such a construction, so I think that the treaty of Paris of the 6th of February, 1778, is not justly liable to such a construction, and that it cannot be attempted with any prospect of success. I agree with you, however, that as we are young States, and not practised in the art of negotiation, it becomes us to look into all these things with as much caution and exactness as possible, and furnish ourselves with the best historical light and every other honest means of securing our rights. For which reason I requested your sentiments upon this subject in writing, and continue to desire in the same way your observations upon the other parts of the treaty. Reduced to writing, such things remain in letters and letter-books, as well as more distinctly in the memory, and the same man or other men may recur to them at future opportunities, whereas transient conversations, especially among men who have many things to do and to think of, slip away, and are forgotten. I shall make use of all the prudence I can, that these letters may not come to the knowledge of improper persons, or be used to the disadvantage of our country, or of you or me in our personal capacity.

I am, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [56]
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
6 October, 1778
Chaillot
John Adams
Adams, John

ARTHUR LEE TO JOHN ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

You have often complained, that taking care of the public papers, and having the business of the commission done in your rooms, was an unequal share of the public burden apportioned to you.

Whatever may be my sentiments on that point, yet to remove, as far as I can, with propriety, all cause of discontent, I am willing to appropriate a room in my house for the meeting and deliberations of the commissioners and the custody of the public papers, provided regular hours are appointed for those meetings and that business. I will answer for the regular arrangement and preservation of the public papers, and that the business of the public shall always be despatched before that of individuals.

Should this arrangement be agreeable to you, and Dr. Franklin concurs, the execution of it will meet with no moment’s delay from me.

I have the honor to be, with the greatest esteem, &c.
Arthur Lee.
John Adams
Adams, John
10 October, 1778
Passy
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur

TO ARTHUR LEE.

Dear Sir,

I have sometimes complained, that having no place appointed for the public papers, nor any person to keep them in order, was an inconvenience and interruption to the public business. I have added, that to have the papers in my chamber as they are, in disorder, and several persons going to them at pleasure, taking out some papers and removing others, was unequal upon me, as making me in a sort responsible for the order which I could not preserve, and for papers themselves which I could not secure; besides that it occasioned continual applications to me alone, and necessitated me to spend a great part of my time in writing orders, notes of hand, copies of letters, passports, and twenty other things, which ought at all Edition: current; Page: [57] times to be written by our clerks, at least as long as it is thought necessary to put the public to the expense of keeping so many.

I have not asked Dr. Franklin’s opinion concerning your proposal of a room in your house for the papers and an hour to meet there, because I know it would be in vain; for I think it would appear to him, as it does to me, more unequal still. It cannot be expected that two should go to one, when it is as easy again for one to go to two; not to mention Dr. Franklin’s age, his rank in the commission, or his character in the world, nor that nine tenths of the public letters are constantly brought to this house, and will ever be carried where Dr. Franklin is.

I will venture to make a proposition in my turn, in which I am very sincere; it is that you would join families with us. There is room enough in this house to accommodate us all. You shall take the apartments which belong to me at present, and I will content myself with the library room and the next to it. Appoint a room for business, any that you please, mine or another, a person to keep those papers, and certain hours to do business.

This arrangement would save a large sum of money to the public, and as it would give us a thousand opportunities of conversing together, which now we have not, and, by having but one place for our countrymen and others who have occasion to visit us to go to, would greatly facilitate the public business, it would remove the reproach we lie under, of which I confess myself very much ashamed, of not being able to agree together, and will render the commission more respectable, if not in itself, yet in the eyes of the English nation, the French nation, and, above all, the American nation; and I am sure, if we judge by the letters we receive, it wants to be made more respectable, at least in the eyes of many persons of the latter. If it is any objection to this, that we live here at no rent, I will agree with you in insisting on having the rent fixed, or leave the house.

As I suppose, the proposal I made of appointing Mr. W. T. Franklin to take the care of the papers, occasioned your letter of the sixth instant, I cannot conclude this answer to it without repeating that proposal.

This appointment can be but temporary, as a secretary will probably arrive from congress ere long.

Edition: current; Page: [58]

But in the mean time, Mr. Franklin, who keeps papers in good order and writes very well, may be of more service to us than he is at present. We shall then have a right to call upon him to do business, and we shall know what situation he is in, and what reward he is to have. I agree perfectly with you, that an hour should be fixed for business; and I beg leave to propose nine o’clock in the morning, to which hour, and from thence to any other hour in the day you please, I will endeavor to be punctual. If you have any objection to this hour, you will be so good as to name another.

I am, dear sir, with an earnest desire and a settled determination to cultivate a harmony, nay more, a friendship with both my colleagues, as far as I can, consistent with the public service, and with great respect and esteem,

Your friend and colleague,
John Adams.
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
12 October, 1778
Chaillot
John Adams
Adams, John

ARTHUR LEE TO JOHN ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

I have hoped for leisure to answer your favor as fully as in my own vindication it demands. There are matters touched in it which imply a censure upon me, which a recapitulation of facts I am satisfied would convince you is unjust. But as I despair of sufficient leisure for some time, I must content myself with replying to what is immediately necessary.

A desire to remove, as much as I could, the cause of your complaint, was the motive I stated to you for writing, and I repeat to you it was the only one. I mentioned my objections to your other plan when you proposed it; if you think them of no weight, let that or any other that will be most agreeable to you and Dr. Franklin be adopted, and it will have my most hearty concurrence.

With regard to the proposal of coming to live with you, nothing would give me more pleasure were it practicable. I thank you for the civility of offering me your room, but it would be impossible for me to do so unhandsome a thing, as to desire that of any gentleman. The living upon the bounty of a common individual I always objected to; besides, in the best of my Edition: current; Page: [59] judgment, that individual appears to me justly chargeable with the foul play used with our despatches. Till I see reason to think otherwise, I should hold myself inexcusable, both to my constituents and myself, if I were to put myself so much in his power. The house I am in, at all events, I must pay for this half year, therefore it would not save this expense. To live together was what I proposed, and labored to effect, though in vain, when the commissioners first came here. I thought it would be attended with every good consequence, and there was nothing I desired more. But, under all the circumstances of that proposition now, and the inveterate habits that have taken place, it appears to me to be attended with insuperable objections. I am, however, open to conviction, and shall be most happy in finding any practicable means of effecting the ends you propose.

Having to dress, breakfast, despatch letters, and do the necessary family affairs before I come to you, I find eleven o’clock the soonest I can engage for.

I had the same earnest desire you express, prompted as well by my own inclination and interest as by my wish for the public good, to cultivate harmony and friendship with both my colleagues, and nothing ever gave me more uneasiness than the impossibility that I have hitherto found of effecting it.

I am, with the greatest respect and esteem, &c.
A. Lee.
M. Genet
Genet, M.
24 Octobre, 1778
Versailles
John Adams
Adams, John

M. GENET1 TO JOHN ADAMS.

Monsieur,

Je viens de traduire pour Monseigneur le Comte de Vergennes les divers papiers de la Gazette de New York que vous trouverez dans le fragment ci-joint d’une gazette Anglaise Edition: current; Page: [60] du 17 de ce mois. Il n’est pas douteux que le prochain Courier de l’Europe ne contienne une traduction de ces divers papiers. Toute la France y verra un des deux cotés de la question, c’est à dire, celui sous lequel les Commissaires Anglais la présentent, sans voir en même temps ce que les Américains peuvent y répondre, parceque les Gazettes Américaines où seront sans doute les réponses convenables, pourront ne pas arriver en Europe aussitôt qu’il conviendroit.

Je prends la liberté de vous prier en conséquence, non pas d’y répondre en votre nom, mais de me fournir des notes d’après lesquelles je puisse, dans le No. 58 des Affaires d’Angleterre1 qui paroîtra incessamment, combattre les assertions injurieuses des Commissaires Anglais, et contre le congrès et contre les membres; notamment, sur l’article des boites de cartouche des troupes du Général Burgoyne; sur l’état où sont actuellement ces troupes à Boston, &c.

J’en ferai usage, comme de réflexions et observations venant d’un particulier ignoré, et au moins nos ennemis communs n’auront point l’avantage que l’Europe se remplisse de ses inculpations contre le congrès et la France, sans que quelqu’un essaye de remettre les esprits sur la bonne voie.

Je suis avec respect, Monsieur, &c.
Genet.

P. S. Plutôt vous pourrez m’envoyer vos observations, mieux ce sera.

R. H. Lee
Lee, R. H.
James Lovell
Lovell, James
28 October, 1778
Philadelphia
John Adams
Adams, John

THE COMMITTEE OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

While we officially communicate to you the inclosed resolve,2 the foundation of which you cannot remain a stranger to, we must entreat you to be assiduous in sending to those commissioners who have left France, and gone to the courts for which they were respectively appointed, all the American intelligence, Edition: current; Page: [61] which you have greater opportunity than they of receiving from hence, particularly to Mr. Izard and Mr. William Lee. We do not often send more than one set of gazettes by one opportunity; and we hear of several vessels which have miscarried.

Congress must and will speedily determine upon the general arrangement of their foreign affairs. This is become, so far as regards you, peculiarly necessary, upon a new commission being sent to Dr. Franklin. In the mean time, we hope you will exercise your whole extensive abilities on the subject of our finances. The Doctor will communicate to you our situation in that regard.

To the gazettes, and to conversation with the Marquis de Lafayette, we must refer you for what relates to our enemies, and close with our most cordial wishes for your happiness.

Your affectionate friends,
R. H. Lee,
James Lovell.
M. Genet
Genet, M.
29 Octobre, 1778
Versailles
John Adams
Adams, John

M. GENET TO JOHN ADAMS.

Monsieur,

J’ai trouvé si important pour le bien commun des deux nations, les sentimens où vous vous êtes montré devant moi chez M. Izard, touchant le secours qu’il conviendroit d’envoyer actuellement à M. le Comte d’Estaing, que j’ai cru ne pouvoir me dispenser d’en hasarder l’insinuation à nos ministres. Pour ne point vous compromettre à cause de votre caractère de député du congrès, et n’en ayant point la permission de vous, je n’ai point voulu vous nommer. Je me suis contenté de dire que je m’étois trouvé à Paris, avec plusieurs Américains, et que leur vœu unanime paroissoit être que la France envoyât sans délai douze vaisseaux de ligne en Amérique, pour dégager l’escadre de Toulon. C’est à M. de Sartine que j’ai fait cette ouverture, et je me propose de la faire demain à M. le Comte de Vergennes. M. de Sartine a eu la bonté de m’entendre avec attention. Je ne prétends point dire qu’il ait saisi cette idée comme ce qu’il y auroit à présent de mieux à faire, ni que je le juge decidé à l’adopter; mais aux questions qu’il a Edition: current; Page: [62] daigné me faire, j’imagine au moins qu’il ne trouveroit point étrange que je mîsse sous ses yeux un mémoire, tendant à prouver la nécessité de cette expédition et la manière d’y procéder, ainsi que l’espèce d’avantages qui en résulteroient. Peut-être conviendroit-il de faire voir dans ce mémoire que la saison n’est pas trop avancée, et qu’on n’a point à craindre de manquer de trouver M. le Comte d’Estaing pour se joindre à lui. Il faudroit aussi y détailler les facilités de toute espèce qu’une nouvelle escadre françoise est sûre de trouver dans tous les ports Américains, ainsi que les pertes auxquels s’exposeront les Anglais s’ils veulent balancer ces nouvelles forces, et enfin le peu de sujet que nous avons de craindre ici que cette diminution de forces en Europe nous porte aucun préjudice. Si vous persistez toujours dans cette opinion, que peut-être comme député vous ne prendriez pas sur vous de suggérer dans la crainte de paroître trop vous avancer vis-à-vis d’une cour qui a dejà fait de grands éfforts dans cette affaire, vous pouvez développer vos idées dans un mémoire que je pourrai présenter comme adressé à moi par un de mes amis parmi Messieurs les Américains. En effet, M. Lloyd, M. Pringle, M. Jenings, et d’autres peuvent m’avoir communiqué une pareille idée, et il n’y auroit aucun inconvénient pour le congrès de qui ils ne sont point autorisés, à ce qu’elle fût discutée ici entre nos ministres. Vous savez comme moi que les forces réunies de Byron et du Lord Howe mettent aujourd’hui vis-à-vis de M. d’Estaing dixneuf ou vingt vaisseaux de ligne et six de cinquante canons. Il me semble que c’est une position inquiétante, et sur laquelle on ne doit pas s’endormir ici. Je m’estimerai très heureux si je puis promouvoir quelque bien, et surtout que ce soit d’une manière qui vous soit agréable.

Je suis avec respect, Monsieur, votre très humble et très obéissant serviteur.

Genet.

P. S. Je vous fais mes remercimens de la lettre, que vous avez eu la bonté de m’écrire. Elle sera employée comme vous l’entendez.

Edition: current; Page: [63]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
John Adams
Adams, John
30 October, 1778
Passy
M. De Sartine
De Sartine, M.

THE COMMISSIONERS TO M. DE SARTINE.

Sir,

We have been honored with your letter of the 26th of October, and we thank your Excellency for the prompt and generous manner in which you have given liberty to four of our countrymen who were among the prisoners at Dinant. Such examples of benevolence cannot fail to make a lasting impression on the American mind.

Since the receipt of your Excellency’s letter, we have received another from the American prisoners at Brest, by which it appears that there are ten of them, from four of whom only we had received letters when we wrote before; the other six having written to us, but their letters miscarried. We inclose a copy of this last letter, and have the honor to request a similar indulgence to all the ten.

By a letter we received last night from Lorient, we have the pleasure to learn that three whaling vessels bound to the coast of Brazil have been taken by his Majesty’s frigates or by French cruisers, and sent into that port. It is very probable that the three masters of these vessels, and every one of their sailors, are Americans.

We are happy in this opportunity of communicating to your Excellency some intelligence which we have been at some pains to collect, and have good reasons to believe exactly true. The English last year carried on a very valuable whale fishery on the coast of Brazil off the River Plate, in South America, in latitude thirty-five south, and from thence to forty, just on the edge of soundings, off and on, about the longitude sixty-five from London. They have this year about seventeen vessels in this fishery, which have all sailed in the months of September and October. All the officers, and almost all the men, belonging to those seventeen vessels, are Americans from Nantucket and Cape Cod in Massachusetts, excepting two or three from Rhode Island, and perhaps one from Long Island. The names of the captains are,—Aaron Sheffield of Newport; Goldsmith and Richard Holmes from Long Island; John Chadwick, Francis May, Reuben May, John Meader, Jonathan Meader, Elisha Clark, Benjamin Clark, William Ray, Paul Pease, Reuben Fitch, Bunker Edition: current; Page: [64] Fitch, Zebedee Coffin, and another Coffin, all of Nantucket; John Lock, Cape Cod; Delano, Nantucket; Andrew Swain, Nantucket; William Ray, Nantucket. Four or five of these vessels go to Greenland; the fleet sails to Greenland the last of February or beginning of March.

There was published last year in the English newspapers, and the same imposture has been repeated this year, a letter from the lords of the admiralty to Dennis de Berdt, in Coleman Street, informing him that a convoy should be appointed to the Brazil fleet. But this, we have certain information, was a forgery, calculated merely to deceive American privateers, and that no convoy was appointed or did go with that fleet either last year or this.

For the destruction or captivity of a fishery so entirely defenceless (for not one of the vessels has any arms) a single frigate or privateer of twenty-four or even twenty guns would be quite sufficient. The beginning of December would be the best time to proceed from hence, because they would then find the whale vessels nearly loaded. The cargoes of these vessels, consisting of bone and oil, will be very valuable, and at least four hundred and fifty of the best kind of seamen would be taken out of the hands of the English, and might be gained into the American service to act against the enemy. Most of the officers and men wish well to their country, and would gladly be in its service if they could be delivered from that they are engaged in. But whenever the English men-of-war or privateers have taken an American vessel, they have given to the whalemen among the crews their choice, either to go on board a man-of-war and fight against their country, or to go into the whale fishery. So many have chosen the latter as to make up most of the crews of seventeen vessels.

We thought it proper to communicate this intelligence to your Excellency, that if you found it compatible with his Majesty’s service to order a frigate from hence or from the West Indies, to take from the English at once so profitable a branch of commerce and so valuable a nursery of seamen, you may have an opportunity of doing it; if not, no inconvenience will ensue.

We have the honor to be, &c.
B. Franklin,
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [65]

[Mr. Lee did not sign, but objected to the acknowledgment of giving up the American subjects captured in the enemy’s vessels as being a favor.]

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
John Adams
Adams, John
4 November, 1778
Passy
M. Schweighauser
Schweighauser, M.

THE COMMISSIONERS TO M. SCHWEIGHAUSER.

We have at length obtained a sight of M. Bersolle’s accounts, and take this opportunity to communicate to you our observations upon them.

As by the resolutions of congress, the whole of all vessels of war taken by our frigates belong to the officers and men; nay, further, as they have even an additional encouragement of a bounty upon every man and every gun that is on board such prizes, it was never the intention of congress to be at any further expense on account of such prizes.

Every article of these accounts, therefore, that relates to repairs of the Drake or furniture for the Drake, must be charged to Captain Jones, his officers, and men, and come out of the proceeds of the sale of the Drake, or be furnished upon her credit and that of the officers and men of the Ranger. It would certainly be a misapplication of the public interest, if we should pay any part of it.

In the next place, all those articles of these accounts which consist in supplies of slops or other things furnished the officers and men of the Ranger must be paid for by them, not by us. Their shares of prize-money in the Drake, the Lord Chatham, and other prizes made by the Ranger will be abundantly sufficient to discharge these debts, and in no such cases can we justify advancing any thing to officers or men.

As the Lord Chatham belongs, half to the public and half to the captors, all necessary expenses on her account should be paid; a moiety out of the captors’ half, and the other moiety out of the half which belongs to the United States.

All necessary supplies of munition and repairs to the Ranger, and of victuals to her company, we shall agree to pay at the expense of the United States. For the sustenance of the prisoners of all the prizes after they were put on shore, we suppose the United States must pay. These rules are so simple, and Edition: current; Page: [66] Captain Jones being now at Brest, it should seem that Captain Jones and your agent might very easily settle this matter.

We have received your letter of the 29th of last month. We wrote you on the 27th, and advised you to proceed against Mr. P. Dudoyer. We are glad to find that Mr. Williams has delivered the effects according to the inventory inclosed to us, and approve of the receipt you have signed.

You have our permission to draw bills upon us to the amount of such part of your account as may be necessary to you, to which we shall pay all due honor.

That poor fellow, Barnes, you will do well to supply with necessaries and send home, but do not give him any money; he has not discretion to use it.

You have our hearty consent to employ as many of the prisoners as you think proper and as are willing to engage in your service.

We thank you for the news from Brest, and wish you to inquire of Captain Bell and the other American masters lately arrived, what despatches they brought for us. We have received some packets of newspapers and two or three scattering letters, but not a word from congress or any committee or member of congress, which is to us unaccountable, and leaves room to fear that some accident has happened to our despatches.

We are, &c. &c.
B. Franklin,
Arthur Lee,
John Adams.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
John Adams
Adams, John
7 November, 1778
Passy

THE COMMISSIONERS TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,—

We have the honor to inclose a copy of the declaration concerning the eleventh and twelfth articles of the treaty of commerce, which we have received from his Excellency, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in exchange for a similar one signed by us, in pursuance of the instructions of congress.

We have also the honor to inclose copies of a correspondence with his Excellency, M. de Sartine, the Secretary of State for the Marine, concerning cases of rescues and recaptures, that Edition: current; Page: [67] congress may, if they judge proper, take some resolution on this head. It seems to be equitable that the same rule should be observed by both nations.

We also inclose copies of a correspondence on the subject of negotiation with the Barbary States. We do not find ourselves authorized to treat with those powers, as they are not in Europe; and indeed we are not furnished with funds for making them presents.

We have had the honor of a copy from the Auditor-General, inclosing the form of bills of exchange to be drawn upon us for the interest due upon loan office certificates, and acquainting us that this interest will amount to two millions and a half of livres annually. When it was proposed to pay the interest here, we had no idea of so much being borrowed. We shall pay the most punctual obedience to these and all other orders of congress, as long as our funds shall last. But we are obliged to inform congress, that our expenses on prisoners being great, and being drawn upon by the order of congress from various quarters, and receiving no funds from America, we suffer the utmost anxiety, lest we should be obliged to protest bills. We have exerted ourselves to the utmost of our power to procure money, but hitherto with little success; and we beg that some supplies may be sent us as soon as possible. We are very sorry that we are not able to send to congress those supplies of arms, ammunition, and clothing, which they have ordered; but it is absolutely impossible, for the want of funds; and M. Beaumarchais has not yet informed us whether he will execute the agreement made for him with you, or not.

We have the pleasure to inform congress that Mr. Matthew Ridley, of Maryland, has made a present to the United States of a valuable manuscript upon naval affairs, which he has left with us. We shall take the first opportunity of a frigate to send it to congress.

We inclose to congress copies of a correspondence between the Ambassador of the King of the two Sicilies and us, which, as his Majesty is the eldest son of the King of Spain, is considered as an event indicative of the good-will of a greater power, although this is respectable.

It is of great importance to penetrate the councils of an enemy, in order to be prepared beforehand against his designs; Edition: current; Page: [68] we shall therefore be happy to advise congress of the intentions of Great Britain so far as we can conjecture.

We have every reason to believe that the hostility of the disposition of the British Court has no other bounds but those of their power. Their threats, however, of large reinforcements and of Russian auxiliaries are without foundation. The interest of the King of Prussia and of the Empress Queen (who both choose at present to preserve decent terms with Great Britain) to prevent a close alliance between England and Russia, we apprehend will prevent it. In short, we can see no probability of England’s forming any alliance against America in all Europe; or indeed against France; whereas, on the other side, from the astonishing preparations of Spain, the family compact and other circumstances, and from the insolent tyranny of the English over the Dutch, and their consequent resentment, which has shown itself in formidable remonstrances, as well as advances towards a treaty with us, there is reason to believe that, if Great Britain perseveres in the war, both of these powers will at length be involved in it.

We had the honor to write to congress on the 20th of July and the 17th of September, of which we have sent duplicates and triplicates, and to which we beg leave to refer. By this opportunity we shall send the newspapers which contain all the public intelligence.

We inclose a number of notes of hand which have been taken from our unhappy countrymen who have escaped from England, to whom we have lent money, as they had no other way of subsistence.

We have the honor to be, &c.
B. Franklin,
Arthur Lee,
John Adams.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
John Adams
Adams, John
12 November, 1778
Passy
M. De Sartine
De Sartine, M.

THE COMMISSIONERS TO M. DE SARTINE.

Sir,

Last night we had a letter from Nantes, a copy of which we have the honor to inclose to your Excellency.

The subject of it appears to us of great importance to the Edition: current; Page: [69] United States, as well as to the individuals, Frenchmen and Americans, who are interested in the vessels destined to America; also to a considerable number of gentlemen and others, who are going passengers in this fleet; and ultimately, to the common cause.

It gives us great pleasure to find so large a number of vessels going out upon this occasion. Their cargoes are much wanted to enable our countrymen to sustain the war. We therefore most cheerfully join with the subscribers to the letter, who have also petitioned your Excellency, in requesting a large convoy to protect those ships quite home to America.

Upon this occasion, we cannot refrain from submitting to your Excellency our opinion, that the more of the King’s ships are sent to America, the more certainly France maintains a superiority of naval power in the American seas, the more likely it will be that she will have the advantage in the conduct of the war; because the French, having the ports and the country, the provisions, the materials, and the artificers of America open to them, and the English being obliged to derive all these things from Europe, the former have a vast advantage over the latter in the conduct of the war in that quarter of the world; not to mention that the French ships being newer and in better condition than the English, are better able to sustain the American seas.

Your Excellency will excuse our suggesting one reflection,—that whatever vessels of war are sent to America, they should be plentifully furnished with marine woollen cloths, especially blankets and gloves, or mittens, without which it is extremely difficult for the men to do their duty in the cold season upon that coast,

We are, &c. &c.
B. Franklin,
Arthur Lee,
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [70]
John Adams
Adams, John
12 November, 1778
Passy
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count

THE COMMISSIONERS TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Sir,

The alliance between this kingdom and the United States of America is an event of such magnitude in their history, that we conceive it would be highly pleasing to our constituents to have the picture of his Majesty, their illustrious ally, to be kept in some public place where the congress sits.

We would carefully avoid every thing which would be disagreeable, and would therefore submit this proposal to your Excellency’s consideration; and if you should be of opinion that no offence would be given, we request your Excellency’s kind offices to procure us, for the benefit of our constituents, the pictures of their Majesties, the King and Queen, that posterity, as well as those of the present generation, who may never have an opportunity of seeing those royal personages, may become acquainted with the nearest resemblance of them which the arts have devised.1

John Adams
Adams, John
3 December, 1778
Passy

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I have the honor to inclose to congress the latest newspapers. As they contain the speech at the opening of parliament, and some of the debates in both houses upon the addresses in answer to it, they are of very great importance. I learn, by some newspapers and private letters, that an opinion has been prevalent in America that the enemy intended to withdraw from the United States; and considering the cruel devastations of the war, and the unfortunate situation of our finances, nothing would give me so much joy as to see reasons to concur in that opinion, and to furnish congress with intelligence in support of it. But I am sorry to say, the reverse is too apparent. We may call it obstinacy or blindness, if we will, but such is the state of Edition: current; Page: [71] parties in England, so deep would be the disgrace, and perhaps so great the personal danger to those who have commenced and prosecuted this war, that they cannot but persevere in it at every hazard; and nothing is clearer in my mind, than that they never will quit the United States until they are either driven or starved out of them. I hope, therefore, congress will excuse me for suggesting, that there is but one course for us to take, which is to concert every measure, and exert every nerve, for the total destruction of the British power within the United States.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
7 December, 1778
Passy
Dr. Price
Dr. Price

THE COMMISSIONERS TO DR. PRICE.

Sir,

By one of the late ships from America we had the pleasure of receiving from congress an attested copy of their resolution of the 6th of October, conceived in these words:—

Charles Thomson
Thomson, Charles
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
John Adams
Adams, John
6 October, 1778

Resolved, That the Honorable Benjamin Franklin, Arthur Lee, and John Adams, Esquires, or any of them, be directed forthwith to apply to Dr. Price, and inform him that it is the desire of congress to consider him as a citizen of the United States, and to receive his assistance in regulating their finances; that, if he shall think it expedient to remove with his family to America, and afford such assistance, a generous provision shall be made for requiting his services.

Extract from the Minutes.
Charles Thomson, Secretary.

From a great respect to the character of Dr. Price, we have much satisfaction in communicating this resolution. We request your answer as soon as convenient. If it should be in the affirmative, you may depend upon us to discharge the expenses of your journey and voyage, and for every assistance in our power to make your passage agreeable, as well as your reception and accommodation in our country.

We have the honor to be, with the highest esteem and respect, sir,

Your most obedient and most humble servants,
B. Franklin,
Arthur Lee,
John Adams.1
Edition: current; Page: [72]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
John Adams
Adams, John
29 December, 1778
Passy
John Ross
Ross, John

THE COMMISSIONERS TO JOHN ROSS.

Sir,

We have received your letters of the 15th and 24th of December, with their envelopes, and once more assure you, that we have no authority to do any thing in your affairs until you have settled your accounts. Whenever you shall be disposed to lay your accounts before us, we shall be ready to receive them and settle them according to the strictest justice, and to pay you the balance, if any, which may be found due to you, according to the resolutions of congress and our ability.

We have the honor to be, &c.
B. Franklin,
Arthur Lee,
John Adams.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
John Adams
Adams, John
1 January, 1779
Passy
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count

THE COMMISSIONERS TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Sir,

Some late proceedings of the enemy have induced us to submit a few observations to your Excellency’s superior light and judgment.

His Britannic Majesty’s Commissioners, in their manifesto of the 3d of October, have denounced “a change in the whole nature and future conduct of the war;” they have declared, “that the policy as well as the benevolence of Great Britain has thus far checked the extremes of war,” when they tended “to distress the people and desolate the country;” that the whole contest is changed; that the laws of self-preservation must now direct the conduct of Great Britain; that these laws will direct her to render the United States of as little avail as Edition: current; Page: [73] possible to France, if they are to become an accession to her, and by every means in her power to destroy the new connection contrived for her ruin. Motions have been made and supported by the wisest men in both houses of parliament to address the King to disavow these clauses, but these motions have been rejected by majorities in both houses, so that the manifesto stands avowed by the three branches of the legislature.

Ministers of state made in parliament a question concerning the meaning of this manifesto; but no man who reads it, and knows the history of their past conduct in this war, can doubt its import. There is to be a “change in the nature and conduct of the war.” A change for the worse must be horrible indeed! They have already burned the beautiful towns of Charlestown, Falmouth, Norfolk, Kingston, Bedford, Egg Harbor, and German Flatts, besides innumerable single buildings and smaller clusters of houses wherever their armies have marched. It is true they left Boston and Philadelphia unhurt, but in all probability it was merely the dread of a superior army that in these cases restrained their hands, not to mention that burning these towns would have been the ruin of the few secret friends they have still left, of whom there are more in those towns than in all America besides. They have not indeed murdered upon the spot every woman and child that fell in their way, nor have they in all cases refused quarters to the soldiers that at all times have fallen into their power, though they have in many. They have also done their utmost in seducing negroes and Indians to commit inhuman barbarities upon the inhabitants, sparing neither age, sex, nor character. Although they have not in all cases refused quarter to soldiers and sailors, they have done what is worse than refusing quarters; they have thrust their prisoners into such dungeons, loaded them with such irons, and exposed them to such lingering torments of cold, hunger, and disease, as have destroyed greater numbers than they could have had an opportunity of murdering, if they had made it a rule to give no quarter. Many others they have compelled by force to serve and fight on board their ships against fathers, brothers, friends, and countrymen; a destiny to every sensible mind more terrible than death itself.

It is, therefore, difficult to comprehend what they mean by a change in the conduct of the war, yet there seems to be no room Edition: current; Page: [74] to doubt that they mean to threaten something more cruel, greater extremes of war, measures that shall distress the people and lay waste the country more than any thing they have yet done. “The object of the war is now entirely changed.” Heretofore their massacres and conflagrations were to divide us, and reclaim us to Great Britain. Now, despairing of that end, and perceiving that we shall be faithful to our treaties, their principle is by destroying us to make us useless to France. This principle ought to be held in abhorrence, not only by all Christians, but by all civilized nations. If it is once admitted that powers at war have a right to do whatever will weaken or terrify an enemy, it is not possible to foresee where it will end. It would be possible to burn the great cities of Europe. The savages who torture their prisoners do it to make themselves terrible; in fine, all the horrors of the barbarous ages may be introduced and justified.

The cruelties of our enemies have heretofore more than once exasperated the minds of the people so much as to excite apprehensions that they would proceed to retaliation, which, if once commenced, might be carried to extremities; to prevent which, the congress issued an address exhorting to forbearance, and a further trial, by examples of generosity and lenity, to recall their enemies to the practice of humanity amidst the calamities of war. In consequence of which, neither the congress nor any of the States apart have ever exercised, or authorized the exercise of the right of retaliation. But now, that commissioners vested with the authority of the nation have avowed such principles and published such threats, the congress have, by a resolution of the 30th of October, solemnly and unanimously declared that they will retaliate. Whatever may be the pretences of the enemy, it is the manifest drift of their policy to disgust the people of America with their new alliance, by attempting to convince them, that instead of shielding them from distress, it has accumulated additional calamities upon them.

Nothing, certainly, can more become a great and amiable character than to disappoint their purpose, stop the progress of their cruelties, and vindicate the rights of humanity which are so much injured by this manifesto. We therefore beg leave to suggest to your Excellency’s consideration, whether it would Edition: current; Page: [75] not be advisable for his Majesty to interfere by some declaration to the Court of London and to the world, bearing the royal testimony against this barbarous mode of war, and giving assurances that he will join the United States in retaliation, if Great Britain, by putting her threats in execution, should make it necessary.

There is another measure, however, more effectual to control their designs, and to bring the war to a speedy conclusion,—that of sending a powerful fleet, sufficient to secure a naval superiority over them in the American seas. Such a naval force, acting in concert with the armies of the United States, would, in all human probability, take and destroy the whole British power in that part of the world. It would put their wealth and West Indian commerce into the power of France, and reduce them to the necessity of suing for peace. Upon their present naval superiority in those seas depend not only the dominion and rich commerce of their islands, but the supply of their fleets and armies with provisions and every necessary. They have nearly four hundred transports constantly employed in the service of their fleet and army in America, passing from New York and Rhode Island to England, Ireland, Nova Scotia, and their West India Islands; and if any one link in this chain was struck off, if their supplies from any one of these places should be interrupted, their forces could not subsist. Great numbers of these vessels would necessarily fall into the hands of the French fleet, and go as prizes to a sure market in the United States. Great numbers of seamen, too, would become prisoners, a loss that England cannot repair. It is conceived that it would be impossible for Great Britain to send a very great fleet after the French into those seas. Their men-of-war, now in Europe, are too old, too rotten, too ill-manned, and their masts and yards are of too bad materials to endure such a navigation. The impossibility of their obtaining provisions, artists, and materials in that country, which would be easy to the French, makes it still clearer that they cannot send a great additional force, and the fear of Spain’s interfering, with her powerful navy, would restrain them. Whereas France has nothing to fear in Europe from them, as the number and excellence of her armies are an ample security against the feeble land forces of Great Britain.

This naval superiority would open such commerce between Edition: current; Page: [76] the United States and the French West India Islands as would enable our people to supply themselves with the European and West India articles they want, to send abroad the produce of the country, and by giving fresh spirit and vigor to trade, would employ the paper currency, the want of which employ has been one cause of its depreciation. The maintenance of such a fleet in America would circulate so many bills of exchange as would likewise in a great measure relieve them from that dangerous evil. And these bills would all return to France for her manufactures, thereby cementing the connection and extending the trade between the two countries. Such a naval superiority would contribute very much to extinguish the hopes of the remaining number of persons who secretly wish, from sinister motives, to become again subjected to Great Britain, and would enable the people of the several States to give such consistency and stability to their infant governments, as would contribute greatly to their internal repose, as well as to the vigor of their future operations against the common enemy. The late speedy supply and reparation of his Majesty’s fleet at Boston will show the advantages which this country must enjoy in carrying on a naval war on a coast friendly to her and hostile to her enemy. And these advantages will in future be more sensible, because the appearance of the fleet before was unexpected, and the harvest in that part of the country had been unfavorable. It is obvious to all Europe, that nothing less is at stake than the dominion of the sea, at least the superiority of naval power, and we cannot expect Great Britain will ever give it up without some decisive effort on the part of France. With such an exertion as that of sending a superior fleet to America, we see nothing in the course of human affairs that can possibly prevent France from obtaining such a naval superiority without delay. Without it the war may languish for years, to the infinite distress of our country, to the exhausting both of France and England, and the question left to be decided by another war.

We are the more earnest in representing these things to your Excellency, as all our correspondence from England for some time has uniformly represented that the intention of the cabinet is conformable to the spirit of the manifesto; that all parties grow more and more out of temper with the Americans; that it Edition: current; Page: [77] has become fashionable with the minority, as well as the majority and administration, to reproach us, both in and out of parliament; that all parties join in speaking of us in the bitterest terms, and in heartily wishing our destruction; that great clamors are raised about our alliance with France, as an unnatural combination to ruin them; that the cry is for a speedy and powerful reinforcement of their army, and for the activity of their fleet in making descents on the sea-coast, while murdering and desolating parties are let loose upon the frontiers of the Carolinas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and New England; and that, very early in the year, they will carry all these projects into execution. This whole system may, as we conceive, be defeated, and the power of Great Britain now in America totally subdued (and if their power is subdued there, it is reduced everywhere) by the measure we have the honor to propose.

We submit the whole, merely as our opinions, to your Excellency’s superior wisdom, and have the honor to be, &c.

B. Franklin,
Arthur Lee,
John Adams.1
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
John Adams
Adams, John
26 January, 1779
Passy
John Lloyd
Lloyd, John

THE COMMISSIONERS TO JOHN LLOYD AND OTHERS.

Gentlemen,

We had yesterday the honor of your letter of the 21st of this month.

You desire to know what port or ports is or are made free, pursuant to the treaty. We believe that none has as yet been determined on; at present, all the ports of France are open to American vessels of all denominations, and we are at present rather doubtful, whether it would be politic in us to apply to have any distinction made. If the appointment of free ports would relieve us from the payment of duties, import or export, we should apply immediately. But, as we apprehend, this advantage would not be the consequence; the limits of the free Edition: current; Page: [78] ports would be prescribed, and the same duties must be paid upon removing goods, within or without those limits, as are now paid upon the imports and exports. Goods, however, might be brought into such free ports from abroad, and then landed and stored for a time, and then exported without paying duties; but whether this would be any great advantage to our trade, you are better judges than we. We should be glad of your advice upon this head, and if you think of any advantages of considerable moment that would arise, we shall be always ready to apply for such an appointment.

We are sorry it is not in our power to give you any acceptable information respecting the article of the treaty which relates to the Barbary corsairs. All we can say is, that we have applied to the ministry upon this head some months ago, and received satisfactory expressions of the disposition of this government to do every thing which is stipulated in that article of the treaty. But some things remain to be determined by congress, to whom we have written upon the subject, and we must necessarily wait their instructions.

There are two inquiries to be made, namely,—which of all the nations who now trade with France is the most favored, and what duties are paid by that nation? These duties, and these only, we suppose we are to pay, and as soon as circumstances will permit (two of us having been for a fortnight very ill, and one of us continuing so,) we shall apply to the ministry for an éclaircissement upon this head, which we will endeavor to communicate to you as soon as we shall obtain it.

We have received an answer to our last application for a convoy, from their Excellencies, Count de Vergennes and M. de Sartine; but the answers convinced us that M. de Sartine was under some misinformation or misunderstanding relative to the business, which obliged us to write again. As soon as we shall be honored with an answer, we will communicate the result of it to you.

Meantime, we have the honor to be, with great respect, gentlemen,

Your most obedient, humble servants,
B. Franklin,
Arthur Lee,
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [79]
John Adams
Adams, John
11 February, 1779
Passy
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count

TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Sir,

As your Excellency reads English perfectly well, my first request is, that you would do me the favor to read this, without a translation; after which, I submit it to your Excellency to make what use of it you shall think proper.

I have hitherto avoided, in my single capacity, giving your Excellency any trouble by letter or conversation; but the present emergency demands that I should ask the favor to explain my sentiments, either by letter or in person; if you will permit a personal interview, I am persuaded I can make myself understood; if you prefer a correspondence, I will lay open my heart in writing before your Excellency.

It is the address to the people in America, under the name of Mr. Silas Deane, that has occasioned this boldness in me. It is to me the most unexpected and unforeseen event that has happened. I hope your Excellency will not conclude from thence, that I despair of the commonwealth. Far otherwise. I know that the body of the people in the United States stand immovable against Great Britain; and I hope that this address of Mr. Deane, although it will occasion much trouble to individuals, will produce no final detriment to the common cause, but, on the contrary, that it will occasion so thorough an investigation of several things as will correct many abuses.

It is my indispensable duty, upon this occasion, to inform your Excellency, without consulting either of my colleagues, that the Honorable Arthur Lee was, as long ago as 1770, appointed by the house of representatives of the Massachusetts Bay, of which I had then the honor to be a member, their agent at the Court of London, in case of the death or absence of Dr. Franklin. This honorable testimony was given to Mr. Lee by an assembly in which he had no natural interest, on account of his inflexible attachment to the American cause, and the abilities of which he had given many proofs in its defence.

From that time to the year 1774, he held a constant correspondence with several of those gentlemen who stood foremost in the Massachusetts Bay against the innovations and illegal encroachments of Great Britain. This correspondence I had an Edition: current; Page: [80] opportunity of seeing; and I assure your Excellency, from my own knowledge, that it breathed the most inflexible attachment, and the most ardent zeal in the cause of his country.

From September, 1774, to November, 1777, I had the honor to be in congress, and the opportunity to see his letters to congress, to their committees, and to several of their individual members. Through the whole of both these periods, he communicated the most constant and certain intelligence which was received from any individual within my knowledge; and since I have had the honor to be joined with him here, I have ever found in him the same fidelity and zeal, and have not a glimmering of suspicion that he ever maintained an improper correspondence in England, or held any conference or negotiation with anybody from thence, without communicating it to your Excellency and to his colleagues. I am confident, therefore, that every insinuation and suspicion against him of infidelity to the United States, or to their engagements with his Majesty, is false and groundless, and that they will assuredly be proved to be so.

The two honorable brothers of Mr. Lee, who are members of congress, I have long and intimately known; and of my own knowledge I can say, that no men have discovered more zeal in support of the sovereignty of the United States, and in promoting, from the beginning, a friendship and alliance with France; and there is nothing of which I am more firmly persuaded, than that every insinuation that is thrown out to the disadvantage of the two Mr. Lees in congress is groundless.

It would be too tedious to enter at present into a more particular consideration of that address; I shall, therefore, conclude this letter, already too long, by assuring your Excellency, that I am, with the most entire consideration,

Your most obedient and most humble servant,
John Adams.
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count
13 Février, 1779
Versailles
John Adams
Adams, John

COUNT DE VERGENNES TO JOHN ADAMS.

J’ai reçu, monsieur, la lettre que vous m’avez fait l’honneur de m’écrire, le 11 de ce mois, et conformément à vos désirs, je n’ai point appelé le secours d’un traducteur pour prendre connoissance Edition: current; Page: [81] de son contenu. Je ne suis pas moins peiné que vous, monsieur, de l’appel au peuple d’Amérique que M. Silas Deane a publié. Il ne m’appartient pas de qualifier cette démarche; c’est à vos souverains respectifs d’en juger et de prononcer sur les différens qui peuvent s’être élevés entre messieurs leurs commissaires. La façon dont on vous a traités ici, ensemble et séparément, a dû vous convaincre, que si nous avons pu être instruits de vos contestations, nous n’y sommes entrés pour rien, et l’estime personelle que nous avons cherché à faire remarquer à chacun de messieurs les commissaires, fait preuve que nous n’avons point adopté les préventions qu’on semble vouloir inspirer à l’Amérique, et dont le fondement nous est inconnu ici; quoique cette désagréable discussion nous soit étrangère, et que nous devions à tous égards nous abstenir d’y entrer, je n’en serai pas moins charmé de vous voir, monsieur. Le jour qui vous conviendra sera le mien; je vous prie seulement de me prévenir à l’avance de celui que vous aurez choisi.

J’ai l’honneur d’être, avec une véritable considération, monsieur, votre très humble et très obéissant serviteur,

De Vergennes.
John Adams
Adams, John
13 February, 1779
Passy

TO THE COMMITTEE OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS.

Gentlemen,

I had yesterday the honor of your favor of the 28th of October, inclosing a resolution of congress of the 22d of the same month, to which I shall give all the attention in my power.1 I have much satisfaction in the reflection that I have hitherto endeavored with much sincerity to conform to the spirit of it. What you recommend to me, namely,—to communicate to the ministers of other courts such intelligence as I may receive, will not in future be so much in my power; but as far as I can, while I stay in Europe, I shall endeavor to comply. Indeed, it is a long time that we have had no intelligence to communicate. Three vessels we know have been taken, each of which had many letters, and two of them public despatches; one that sailed from Philadelphia the 4th of November, another that sailed from the same port the 24th, Edition: current; Page: [82] and another that sailed from Boston on the 20th. These letters and despatches were all sunk, and we fear that others are lost.

It would be agreeable to me, indeed, if I were able to throw any light on the subject of finances. As to a loan in Europe, all has been done that was in our power to this end, but without the desired effect. Taxation and economy comprehend all the resources that I can think of.

We expect the honor of a visit from the Marquis de Lafayette this morning, whom we shall receive with gratitude for his gallant and glorious exertions in one of the best causes in which a hero ever fought.

Be pleased to accept my thanks for your kind wishes for my happiness, and believe me to be your affectionate friend,

John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
16 February, 1779
Passy
M. De Sartine
De Sartine, M.

TO M. DE SARTINE.

Sir,

By the late appointment of a minister plenipotentiary at this court, I am left at liberty to return to my own country, as it does not appear that congress have any further service for me to do in Europe. I therefore wish to return as soon as possible. But the English have heard so much of me in times past, that I should be very loth to be exposed to their good-will. If it is in your Excellency’s intention, therefore, to send any man-of-war to any part of the United States, I would ask the favor of a passage for myself, my little son, and a servant.

I have the honor to be, with the highest consideration, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
16 February, 1779
Passy
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count

TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Sir,

Last evening I had the honor of your letter of the 13th of this month, in answer to mine of the 11th.

I thank your Excellency for the politeness with which you have agreed to my proposition of a conference upon the subject of Mr. Deane’s “Address to the People of the United States.”

At the time when my letter of the 11th was written and sent to your Excellency, there were three commissioners here, representatives Edition: current; Page: [83] of congress, between whom, it appeared to me, Mr. Deane’s address had a tendency to destroy all confidence, as well as between your Excellency and them; for which reason I thought it my duty to endeavor, by a conference with your Excellency, to lessen those evils as far as should be in my power.

But within a few hours after my letter of the 11th was sent, the arrival of the Aid-de-Camp of the Marquis de Lafayette with despatches from congress to Dr. Franklin, and from their committee of foreign affairs to me, informing me of the new arrangement, by which Dr. Franklin is constituted Minister Plenipotentiary here, and I am restored to the character of a private citizen, so wholly changed the scene and the characters here, that I now think I have no right to do, what, if I had continued in the character of a commissioner, I should have thought it my indispensable duty to do.

This masterly measure of congress, which has my most hearty approbation, and of the necessity of which I was fully convinced before I had been two months in Europe, has taken away the possibility of those dissensions which I so much apprehended. I shall not, therefore, give your Excellency any further trouble, than to take an opportunity of paying my respects, in order to take leave, and to assure you that I shall leave this kingdom with the most entire confidence in his Majesty’s benevolence to the United States, and inviolable adherence to the treaties between the two powers, with a similar confidence in the good disposition of his Majesty’s ministers of state and of this nation towards us, and with a heart impressed with gratitude for the many civilities which I have received in the short space I have resided here, at Court, in the city and in the country, and particularly from your Excellency.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count
21 Février, 1779
Versailles
John Adams
Adams, John

COUNT DE VERGENNES TO JOHN ADAMS.

J’ai reçu, monsieur, la lettre que vous m’avez fait l’honneur de m’écrire, le 16 de ce mois. Quoique vous soyez, désormais, sans caractère public en France, soyez persuadé que l’estime et Edition: current; Page: [84] la considération que vous vous êtes acquise à juste titre, n’ont aucunement diminuées; et je me flatte, monsieur, que vous ne me priverez point du plaisir de vous en assurer de bouche, et d’être en même temps l’interprète des sentimens de bienveillance dont le roi vous honore; ils sont la suite du contentement particulier qu’a sa Majesté de la sage conduite que vous avez tenue, pendant toute la durée de votre commission, ainsi que du zèle que vous avez constamment déployé, tant pour la cause de votre patrie, que pour le maintien de l’alliance qui l’attache à sa Majesté.

J’ai l’honneur d’être, très profondément, monsieur, votre très humble et très obéissant serviteur,

De Vergennes.
John Adams
Adams, John
21 February, 1779
Passy
Marquis De Lafayette
De Lafayette, Marquis

TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE.

My Dear Marquis,

The conversation with which you honored me last evening, has induced me to give you the trouble of this letter upon the same subject.

It is certain that a loan of money is very much wanted to redeem the redundancy of our paper bills; and without it, it is impossible to foresee what will be the consequence to their credit; and therefore every service that may be rendered in order to obtain it from this kingdom, from Spain or Holland, will be a most essential and acceptable service.

But without some other exertions, even a loan, perhaps, would be but a temporary relief; with them a smaller loan might suffice. You know perfectly well that the enemy in America are at present very weak and in great distress in every part. They are weak in Canada, weak in Halifax, weak in Rhode Island, weak in New York, weak in the Floridas, and weak in every one of the West India Islands. A strong armament of ships of the line, with five thousand troops, directed against Halifax, Rhode Island, or New York, must infallibly succeed. So it must against the Floridas; so it must against Canada or any one of the West India Islands.

You are very sensible, that in this state of weakness, the British possessions in America depend upon each other for reciprocal support. The troops and ships derive such supplies of provisions Edition: current; Page: [85] from Canada and Nova Scotia, that if these places or either of them were lost, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the other to subsist. The West India Islands derive such supplies from the Floridas, that if they were lost, the others could hardly subsist. Their fleets and armies in Canada, Halifax, Rhode Island, New York, and the Floridas, receive supplies of rum, sugar, molasses, &c., from the West India Islands, without which they could scarcely subsist. Every part of their possessions in America, both on the continent and in the islands, receives constant supplies from Europe, from England, Scotland, and Ireland, without which it must fall. You perceive, therefore, that their dominions in America at present form such a chain, the links mutually support each other in such a manner, that if one or two were taken away, the whole, or at least the greater part, must fall. In this state of things, then, the obvious policy is to send a strong squadron of ships-of-the-line to coöperate with the Count d’Estaing and the American army in some expedition directed against New York, Rhode Island, Halifax, or perhaps all of them in course. Five or six thousand troops would be quite enough. Above all, it is indispensably necessary to keep a clear naval superiority, both on the coast of the continent and in the West India Islands. This, together with French and American privateers, would make such havoc among the enemy’s transports, passing from one of their possessions to another, as must ruin their affairs. The French have a great advantage in carrying on this kind of war in America at present. The British ships are badly manned, and in bad repair. They cannot send them into the American seas without the utmost terror for their own coasts. And when they are in America, they have not such advantages for supplies of provisions, naval stores, &c., as the French.

The devastation which was made among their ships of the line, frigates, transports, and traders in the American seas the last summer, shows how much more might be done if a stronger force were sent there. As long as the enemy keep possession of New York and Rhode Island, so long it will be necessary for us to keep up large armies to watch their motions and defend the country against them, which will oblige us to emit more paper, and still further to increase the depreciation. Now, as long as they maintain the dominion of those seas, their troops will be Edition: current; Page: [86] protected by the cannon of their ships, and we could not dislodge them with any army, however large; at least, we could not keep those places. But if their force was captivated in those seas, as it might easily be by a sea force coöperating with the land forces, we might reduce our army and innumerable other articles of expense. We need not emit any more paper, and that already out would depreciate no further. I should be happy to have further conversation with you, sir, upon these subjects, or to explain any thing by letter which may be in my power.

With the highest sentiments of esteem and respect,
I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
27 February, 1779
Passy
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count

TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Sir,

I have received the letter which your Excellency did me the honor to write me on the 21st of this month. This testimony from your Excellency of those indulgent sentiments with which his Majesty is pleased to honor my sincere intentions, cannot fail to be preserved by me and my posterity as a most precious monument; and what is of infinitely more importance, it cannot fail to give great satisfaction to my country, to find that a servant of theirs, who has been honored with no small share of their confidence in the most dangerous of times and most critical circumstances, has been so happy as not to forfeit the confidence of their illustrious ally.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
27 February, 1779
Passy

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

By the new arrangement which was brought by the Marquis de Lafayette, I find myself restored to the character of a private citizen.

The appointment of a single minister at the Court of Versailles was not unexpected to me, because I had not been two months in Europe before I was convinced of the policy, and Edition: current; Page: [87] indeed of the necessity of such a measure. But I ever entertained hopes that when the news of such an alteration should arrive, the path of my own duty would have been made plain to me by the directions of congress, either to return home or to go elsewhere. But as no information we have received from congress has expressed their intentions concerning me, I am obliged to collect them by implication, according to the best of my understanding; and as the election of the new minister plenipotentiary was on the 14th of September, and the Alliance sailed from Boston the 14th of January, and in this space of four months no notice appears to have been taken of me, I think the only inference that can be made is, that congress have no further service for me on this side the water, and that all my duties are on the other. I have accordingly given notice to his Excellency, M. de Sartine, and to his Excellency, the Minister Plenipotentiary here, of my intentions to return, which I shall do by the first frigate that sails for any part of the United States, unless I should receive counter orders in the mean time. In a matter of so much uncertainty, I hope I shall not incur the disapprobation of congress, even if I should not judge aright of their intentions, which it is my desire, as well as my duty, to observe as far as I can know them.

By the papers inclosed with this, congress will perceive the discontented and tumultuous state of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, which is so great and so rapidly increasing, that the United States will have little to fear from reinforcements of their enemies the ensuing campaign. All their forces will be necessary to keep in order their own riotous populace at home, and to replace those which are daily consuming in the West Indies. There is, however, no prospect of their evacuating either New York or Rhode Island. The possession of those places is so indispensable, for the preservation of their West India and other trade, as well as of their other dominions in America, that nothing but the last necessity will induce them to give them up.

The greatest source of danger and unhappiness to the States, then, probably will be a depreciating currency. The prospect of a loan in Europe, after every measure that has been or could be taken, I think it my duty to say frankly to congress, is very unpromising. The causes of this are very obvious, and cannot Edition: current; Page: [88] be removed; the state of our currency itself, and the course of exchange, would be sufficient to discourage such a loan, if there were no other obstruction; but there are many others. There are more borrowers in Europe than lenders, and the British loan itself will not be made this year at a less interest than seven and a half per cent.

I see no hope of relief, but from economy and taxation; and these, I flatter myself, will be found sufficient, if the people are once convinced of the necessity of them. When a people are contending not only for the greatest object that any people ever had in view, but for security from the greatest evil that any nation ever had to dread (for there is at this hour no medium between unlimited submission to parliament and entire sovereignty,) they must be destitute of sense as well as of virtue, if they are not willing to pay sufficient sums annually to defray the necessary expense of their defence in future, supported as they are by so powerful an ally and by the prospect of others, against a kingdom already exhausted, without any ally at all, or a possibility of obtaining one. As this is the first time I have had the honor to address myself to congress, since we received the news of your Excellency’s appointment1 to the chair, you will please to accept of my congratulations on that event.

I have the honor to be, with the highest esteem, &c.
John Adams.
M. De Sartine
De Sartine, M.
28 Février, 1779
Versailles
John Adams
Adams, John

M. DE SARTINE TO JOHN ADAMS.

J’ai reçu, monsieur, la lettre que vous m’avez fait l’honneur de m’écrire, le 16 de ce mois, pour me prévenir que vous êtes dans l’intention de retourner à l’Amérique, et que vous désirez y passer sur un bâtiment du roi. J’ai lieu de croire que lorsque vous avez formé cette demande, vous n’aviez pas connoissance des ordres qui ont été donnés au capitaine de la frégate l’Alliance appartenante aux États Unis, de faire ses dispositions pour Edition: current; Page: [89] mettre à la voile incessament. Comme ce bâtiment a une marche supérieure, j’ai d’autant plus lieu de croire, que vous vous déterminerez à profiter de cette occasion, qu’il n’est pas possible de vous indiquer l’époque où le roi pourra en faire expédier un pour quelque port des États Unis.

J’ai l’honneur d’être, &c.
De Sartine.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
3 April, 1779
Passy
John Adams
Adams, John

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

I received the letter you did me the honor to write to me of the 24th past. I am glad you have been at Brest, as your presence there has contributed to expedite the operations of Captain Landais in refitting his ship. I think with you, that more has been made of the conspiracy than was necessary, but that it would have been well if some of the most guilty could have received a proper punishment.1 As that was impracticable under our present naval code, I hope you will, on your return, obtain an amendment of it.

I approve of clothing the midshipmen and petty officers, agreeable to their request to you, and hope you have ordered it without waiting to hear from me; and I now desire, that whatever else you may judge for the good of the service, our funds and circumstances considered, you would, in my behalf, give directions for; as the great distance makes it inconvenient to send to me on every occasion, and I can confide in your prudence, that you will allow no expense that is unnecessary.

My gout continues to disable me from walking, longer than formerly; but on Tuesday, the 23d past, I thought myself able to go through the ceremony, and accordingly went to Court, had my audience of the King in the new character, presented my letter of credence, and was received very graciously. After which, I went the rounds with the other foreign ministers, in visiting all the royal family. The fatigue, however, was a Edition: current; Page: [90] little too much for my feet, and disabled me for near another week. Upon the whole I can assure you, that I do not think the good will of this Court to the good cause of America is at all diminished by the late little reverses in the fortune of war; and I hope Spain, who has now forty-nine ships of the line and thirty-one frigates ready for service, will soon, by declaring, turn the scale.

Remember me affectionately to master Johnny,
And believe me, with great esteem, sir, &c.
B. Franklin.
M. De Lafayette
De Lafayette, M.
9 April, 1779
St. Germain
John Adams
Adams, John

M. DE LAFAYETTE TO JOHN ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

I beg leave to apply to you in an instance where I am much concerned. The case I shall lay before you, and recommend to your care. There is an officer in Paris whom I wish to send over to America on board the Alliance, and who I know would be of some use in the American army. For that reason, besides this of recommendations I have a great regard for, I wish the gentleman may find a passage in the frigate. Dr. Franklin cannot officially send any officer; but I beg you would take him along with you, and I take upon myself the charge of presenting him to congress. All the marks of kindness I ever met with from them, and the knowledge which the strictest friendship has given me of General Washington’s sentiments, make me as certain as possible, that my officer will meet with the best reception in Philadelphia and in the army, who know I am acquainted with what may be convenient to them.

It is with a great concern, that I hear of discontents between Captain Landais and his officers, and I flatter myself that you will again establish harmony and concord among them. I will take the opportunity of this frigate to write over to my friends in America.

The articles alluded to in your letter from Paris,1 I have been very busy about, but I did not meet with great success till now, and what is done is not equal to what I could wish. It is true, Edition: current; Page: [91] our circumstances are rather narrow in this moment, and I think that the ministers are willing to do what they think possible or advantageous, but we do not always agree in opinion. I hope, however, America will have more and more occasions of knowing the true attachment of this nation for her.

With great impatience I wait for your answer, that I may send the officer to Nantes. I hope you will not refuse your patronage on this occasion, and I may answer, congress will have no objection to take a gentleman I send them.

You will, my dear sir, in settling his passage, much oblige your humble servant,

Lafayette.
John Adams
Adams, John
13 April, 1779
Nantes
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin

TO BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.

Sir,

I had yesterday the honor of yours of the 3d of this month. Captain Landais had so much diffidence in some of his crew, that he could not think of carrying home any of the most culpable of the conspirators, especially as he was so weak-handed. The naval code of the United States has great occasion for amendments in many particulars, without which there will be little discipline, subordination, or obedience.

I am happy that you approve of clothing the petty officers, and thank you for the confidence you have put in me, in desiring that I would give directions in your behalf for what I may judge for the good of the service, funds and circumstances considered; a trust, however, that will involve me in difficulties, because I fear the demands of officers and men will be greater than I could wish. Obedience on board is so imperfect, that I do not expect the ship can possibly be got to sea without some money to the officers and men. I expect the ship here every day, and I hope in fifteen days to be at sea. If you have any letters I should be glad to carry them.

I am much pleased with your reception at Court in the new character, and I do not doubt that your opinion of the good-will of this Court to the United States is just. This benevolence is the result of so much wisdom, and is founded on such solid principles, that I have the utmost confidence in its perseverance Edition: current; Page: [92] to the end. Spain, too, must sooner or later see her true interests, and declare in favor of the same generous cause. I wish and hope with you, that it will be soon; if it is not, there is great reason to fear a very unnecessary and profuse effusion of human blood; for the English derive such spirits from their captures at sea and other little successes, and war is everlastingly so popular among them when there is the least appearance of success, however deceitful, that they will go on at whatever expense and hazard.

Master Johnny, whom you have honored with an affectionate remembrance, and who acts at present in the quadruple capacity of interpreter, secretary, companion, and domestic to his papa, desires me to present you his dutiful respects.

My regards, if you please, to Mr. Franklin and Mr. Geléc, and the young fry.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, &c.
John Adams.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
21 April, 1779
Passy
John Adams
Adams, John

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

I have received your two favors of the 13th instant. I am much obliged to you for undertaking the trouble of contenting the officers and people of the Alliance. I must now beg leave to make a little addition to that trouble, by requesting your attention to the situation of the officers and sailors, late prisoners in England, which Mr. Williams will acquaint you with; and that you would likewise order for them such necessaries and comforts as we can afford. I wish we were able to do all they want and desire, but the scantiness of our funds and the multitude of demands prevent it.

The English papers talk much of their apprehensions about Spain. I hope they have some foundation.

With great esteem, &c.
B. Franklin.
Edition: current; Page: [93]
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
24 April, 1779
Passy
John Adams
Adams, John

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

By the inclosed letter from M. de Sartine, expressing his Majesty’s desire that the Alliance should be retained here a little longer, you will see that I am under a kind of necessity of disappointing you in your intentions of making your passage immediately in that vessel, which would be more unpleasing to me but for these considerations; that, possibly, it may be safer for you to go in a ship where the crew not being so mixed can be better depended on; where you will not be incommoded by the misunderstandings subsisting between the officers and their captain; and where you will have the society of the French Ambassador, M. le Chevalier de la Luzerne, who appears to me a most amiable man, and of very sensible and pleasing conversation. I hope this will, in some measure, compensate for the inconvenience of shifting your stores from one ship to the other. And as I shall order the Alliance to Lorient, where the King’s frigate is, that carries the ambassador, the removal of your things from one ship to the other will be more easy. You can even go thither in the Alliance if you choose it. The ships in the American trade which were at Nantes when I offered them the convoy of the Alliance, having declined that offer, and sailed, as I understand, under another and perhaps safer convoy, makes her immediate departure for America less necessary, and perhaps she may now make a cruise in these seas, for which I understand she will have time; which will be probably more advantageous, and, therefore, more satisfactory to her people than a direct return. I hope she may procure us some more prisoners to exchange the rest of our countrymen, and at the same time reimburse us the charges of her refitting, which you know we stand much in need of.

M. Dumas writes me from the Hague of the 19th,—“Je sçais depuis hier, de bonne part, que l’Espagne s’est enfin déclarée. Cela fera un bon éffet ici et partout.” I hope his intelligence is good; but nothing of it has yet transpired here.

Inclosed, I send you a cover which I have just received from Martinique, directed to me, but containing only a letter for you. The cover being unskilfully sealed over the seal of your letter, Edition: current; Page: [94] was so attached to it, that I had like to have broken open the one in opening the other. I send you also another letter which came from Spain.

I am obliged by your offer of taking charge of my despatches for America. I shall send them down to you by M. de la Luzerne, who is to set off in a few days.

With great esteem, I have the honor to be, sir,
Your most obedient and most humble servant,
B. Franklin.
M. De Sartine
De Sartine, M.
20 Avril, 1779
Versailles
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin

(Inclosed with the Preceding.)
M. DE SARTINE TO BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.

La difficulté, monsieur, de recevoir des nouvelles de l’Amérique Septentrionale, et de donner de celles d’Europe au congrès, me fait désirer que vous suspendiez le départ pour l’Amérique Septentrionale de la frégate des États Unis, l’Alliance, parceque le roi a ordonné qu’il fut préparé une de ses frégates pour porter en Amérique le nouveau ministre plénipotentiaire que sa Majesté y envoye pour remplacer M. Gérard, dont la santé a été très dérangée l’année dernière; et afin de remplir une partie des vues que vous pouviez avoir en expédiant l’Alliance pour le continent des États Unis, le roi accordera avec plaisir à M. Adams son passage pour lui et sa suite sur ladite frégate. Sa Majesté désire que cette proposition puisse convenir avec les arrangemens du congrès, et dans ce cas, je vous serai très obligé de vouloir bien donner vos ordres en conséquence au capitaine de la frégate, l’Alliance, afin qu’il se rende tout de suite à Lorient, où il attendra les ordres ultérieurs que vous lui addresserez.

J’ai l’honneur d’être avec une très parfaite considération, monsieur, &c. &c.

De Sartine.
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
5 June, 1779
Paris
John Adams
Adams, John

ARTHUR LEE TO JOHN ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

By advices from America, since my last to you, my enemies are determined to impeach my attachment to our Edition: current; Page: [95] country and her cause, per fas et per nefas. This makes it necessary for me to request of you your opinion on that point, from the knowledge you have had of my conduct while we acted together in commission. The calumnies of wicked men can only be refuted by the testimony of those who are honest and competent, and it is necessary for me to desire this of you, lest any accident, which God forbid, should befall you on the voyage.

Late letters from Charleston say, they are all in good spirits there. No other news.

I have the honor to be, dear sir, with the greatest esteem,

Your most obedient, humble servant,
Arthur Lee.
John Adams
Adams, John
9 June, 1779
Lorient
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur

TO ARTHUR LEE.

Dear Sir,

Your favors of June the 2d and 5th are now before me; that of the 29th of March I have answered, if I ever received it; for I have answered every one I have received from you, but not having my papers at hand, cannot be particular. I thank you for the manuscript and the pamphlet.

I am happy to hear from you and from all others so agreeable a character of the Chevalier de la Luzerne and M. Marbois, the last of whom I have had the pleasure to see.

I wish it was in my power to do more for Mr. Ford, and to take him with me; but the frigate will be so crowded, I fear it will be impossible.

The declarations of the northern powers against the right of England to stop their merchant vessels, and arming to support their rights, are important events. The displacing of Mr. Paine is a disagreeable and alarming one.

It is with no small astonishment, that I learn by your letter of the 5th, that by advices from America since your last to me, your enemies are determined to impeach your attachment to our country and her cause. Your request, that I would give my opinion on that subject, from the knowledge I have had of your conduct while we acted in commission together, can meet Edition: current; Page: [96] with no objection from me. But I hope I need not inform you, that my opinion upon this point is no secret at Versailles, Paris, Nantes, or elsewhere. Inclosed is a copy of a letter I did myself the honor to write to his Excellency, the Count de Vergennes, some time ago,1 which, for any thing I know, is communicated to all the Court; but the answer shows that it was received. I had my reasons then for keeping it to myself, which exist now no more. I would transcribe the whole correspondence if it was in my power, but I have not time; and it is sufficient to say, that it was conducted by his Excellency with the most obliging politeness. It is my duty now to furnish you with a copy, lest any accident may befall me, which is by no means improbable. I thought then, and am confirmed in that opinion more and more, that it was my duty to communicate my sentiments at Court, upon that very extraordinary occasion; and, from regard to my own reputation, I am very glad you have given me an opportunity of furnishing you with evidence that I did this part of my duty so far forth. The letter was written, sent to Versailles, and received by his Excellency, before the arrival of the Marquis de Lafayette, his aid-de-camp, or Dr. Winship; that is, before the news reached Passy of the new arrangement. But lest that letter should not be sufficient, I shall inclose another certificate, not without a heartfelt grief and indignation, that malice should have been so daring and so barbarous as to make either such a letter or such a certificate from me either necessary or even pardonable.

Your hint, that I must correct some things that are amiss, extorts from me an involuntary sigh. I shall be in a situation critical and difficult without example, my own character at stake from various quarters, and without any thing to support me but truth and innocence; and you need not be informed that these are not always sufficient. I have little expectation of doing good; God grant I may do no harm. I shall not designedly. But I suppose congress intend to examine me as a witness; and I must tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, as far as I know it. If the task should end here, I should not be much embarrassed; but if they should proceed to demand of me opinions and judgments Edition: current; Page: [97] of men and things, as there is reason to expect they will, although I hope they will not, what will be the consequence? Upon the whole, truth must be my shield; and if the shafts of interested malice can pierce through this, they shall pierce me.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
3 August, 1779
Braintree

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

On the 27th of February, I had the honor of writing to congress, informing them of my intention of returning home, in consequence of the commission which superseded mine. On the 1st of March, I had again the honor of writing some information concerning the unprecedented interest which the British government are obliged to give for the loan of money for the service of the present year. On the 8th of March I took my leave of the American minister, and left Paris for Nantes, in expectation of there meeting the Alliance, and sailing in her for America in a few weeks. Upon my arrival at Nantes, I learned the Alliance was yet at Brest, and so embarrassed with nearly forty prisoners, who were supposed to have been concerned in a conspiracy to carry her to England, and with other difficulties, that it was uncertain when she would be ready.

The agent at Nantes at this time receiving a letter from his Excellency, Dr. Franklin, desiring him to consult me about the direction of the Alliance, I thought it would expedite the public service for me to make a journey to Brest, about two hundred miles, which I undertook accordingly, and arrived at that port without loss of time. There, after an attendance of some weeks, and much negotiation with commandants, intendants, and agents, all things were prepared for the frigate to sail for Nantes with about one hundred British prisoners to be exchanged for a like number of American prisoners, arrived there from England in a cartel. I returned to Nantes by land, and the Alliance in a few days arrived in the river; the prisoners were exchanged, about sixty enlisted in the Alliance, and the rest in the Poor Richard, Captain Jones.

After accommodating all the difficulties with the British prisoners, the American prisoners, the officers and crew of the Edition: current; Page: [98] Alliance, and supplying all their necessary wants, Captain Landais, having orders to sail for America, and every thing ready to proceed to sea in a few days, received unexpected orders to proceed to Lorient and wait there for further orders. I had the honor of a letter at the same time from his Excellency, inclosing one from the Minister of Marine, by which I learned that the King had been graciously pleased to grant me a passage on board the frigate which was to carry his Majesty’s new minister plenipotentiary to the United States; that the frigate was at Lorient; and that the minister would be there in a few days. I went in the Alliance from Nantes to Lorient, where after some time the frigate, the Sensible, arrived; but his Excellency, the Chevalier de la Luzerne, did not arrive until the 10th of June. On the 14th of June, and not before, I had the pleasure to be under sail; and on the 2d of August arrived in Nantasket Roads.

I have entered into this detail of disappointments, to justify myself for not returning sooner, and to show that it was not my fault that I was not at home in eight weeks from the first authentic information that I had nothing further to do in France. There is nothing remaining for me to do, but to settle my accounts with congress; but as part of my accounts are in conjunction with my late colleagues, with whom I lived in the same house during my residence in Paris, I am not able to judge whether congress will choose to receive my accounts alone, or to wait until the other commissioners shall exhibit theirs, and have the whole together under one view, so as to do equal justice to all. I am ready, however, to render all the account in my power, either jointly or separately, whenever congress shall order it; and I shall wait their directions accordingly.

It is not in my power, having been so long from Paris, to give congress any news of importance, except that the Brest fleet, under the Count d’Orvilliers, was at sea the beginning of June; that Admiral Arbuthnot was at Plymouth the 31st of May; and that there was a universal persuasion, arising from letters from Paris and London, that Spain had decided against the English. The Chevalier de la Luzerne will be able to give congress satisfactory information upon this head.

I ought not to conclude this letter, without expressing my obligations to Captain Chavagne and the other officers of the Edition: current; Page: [99] Sensible for their civilities in the course of my passage home, and the pleasure I have had in the conversation of his Excellency, the new Minister Plenipotentiary from our august ally, and the Secretary to the Embassy, Monsieur Marbois.

The Chevalier de la Luzerne is a Knight of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem; of an ancient and noble family, connected by blood with many characters of principal name in the kingdom; a grandson of the celebrated Chancellor de Lamoignon; a nephew of Monsieur Malesherbes, perhaps still more famous as first President of the Court of Aids and as a Minister of State; a brother of the Count de la Luzerne and of the Bishop of Langres, one of the three dukes and peers who had the honor to assist in the consecration of the King; a near relation of the Maréchal de Broglie and the Count his brother, and of many other important personages in that country. Nor is his personal character less respectable than his connections, as he is possessed of much useful information of all kinds, and particularly of the political system of Europe, obtained in his late embassy in Bavaria; and of the justest sentiments of the mutual interests of his country and ours, and of the utility to both, of that alliance which so happily unites them; and at the same time divested of all personal and party attachments and aversions. Congress and their constituents, I flatter myself, will have much satisfaction in his negotiations, as well as in those of the secretary to the embassy, who was recently secretary to the embassy in Bavaria, and who is a counsellor of the parliament of Metz, a gentleman whose abilities, application, and disposition cannot fail to make him useful in the momentous office he sustains.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
John, Adams
4 August, 1779
Braintree

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

At the close of the service on which congress have done me the honor to send me, it may not be amiss to submit a few remarks to their consideration on the general state of affairs in Europe, so far as they relate to the interests of the United States. As the time approaches when our relations with the Edition: current; Page: [100] most considerable States in Europe will multiply and assume a greater stability, they deserve the attention of Americans in general, but especially of those composing their supreme council.

France deserves the first place among those powers with which our connections will be the most intimate, and it is with pleasure I am able to assure congress that, from the observations I have made during my residence in that kingdom, I have the strongest reasons to believe that their august ally, his ministers and nation, are possessed of the fullest persuasion of the justice of our cause, of the great importance of our independence to their interests, and the firmest resolution to preserve the faith of treaties inviolate, and to cultivate our friendship with sincerity and zeal. This is of the more consequence to us, as this power enjoys in Europe at this hour an influence which it has not before experienced for many years.

Men are so sensible of a constant tendency in others to excesses, that a signal superiority of power never appears without exciting jealousies and efforts to reduce it. Thus, when Spain, under Charles V. and his successor, made herself dangerous, a great part of Europe united against her, assisted in severing the United Provinces from her, and by degrees greatly diminished her power. Thus, when France, under Louis XIV., indulged the spirit of conquest too far, a great part of mankind united their forces against her with such success as to involve her in a train of misfortunes, out of which she never emerged before the present reign. The English in their turn, by means of their commerce and extensive settlements abroad, arose to a degree of opulence and naval power, which excited more extravagant passions in her own breast, and more tyrannical exertions of her influence, than appeared in either of the other cases. The consequence has been similar, but more remarkable. Europe seems to be more universally and sincerely united in the desire of reducing her than they ever were in any former instance. This is the true cause why the French Court never made war with so universal a popularity among their own subjects, so general an approbation of other courts, and such unanimous wishes among all nations for her success, as at this time.

The personal character of the King; his declared patronage of morals and economy, and the great strokes of wisdom which Edition: current; Page: [101] have marked the commencement of his reign; the active spring which has been given to commerce by the division of the British empire and our new connections with his subjects; all these causes, together with the two treaties of peace which have been lately signed under his auspices and his mediation, have given to this power a reputation which the last reign had lost.

The first of these treaties has determined those controversies which had for a long time divided Russia and the Porte, and the parties have been equally satisfied with the conditions of their reconciliation; a circumstance the more honorable for the French Ministry and the Chevalier de St. Priest, their Ambassador at Constantinople, as it is uncommon. The ancient confidence of the Porte in the Court of Versailles has revived, and the coolness, or rather enmity, which divided France and Russia for near twenty years, gives place to a friendship which is at this time in all its fervor, and will probably be durable, as these powers have no interest to annoy each other; but, on the contrary, are able to assist each other in a manner the most essential.

The peace of Germany, signed at Teschen the 13th of last May, has not equally satisfied the belligerent powers, who were on the one part the Emperor, and on the other the King of Prussia and the Elector of Saxony, his ally.

From the multitude of writings which have appeared before and during this war, in which the causes, the motives, and the right of it are discussed, it appears that in 1768, at the extinction of one of the branches of the House of Bavaria, which has been separated from its trunk for near five centuries, the House of Austria thought itself able, and priests and lawyers among their own subjects were complaisant enough to tell her she had a right, to put herself in possession of the best part of the patrimony of the extinguished line.

The King of Prussia, to whose interest this augmentation of power would have been dangerous, has crowned an illustrious reign by displaying all the resources of military genius and profound policy in opposition to it. While he contended in the field, France negotiated, and the work begun by his arms was completed by the cabinet of Versailles.

The Palatine House of Bavaria, the Duke of Deux Ponts, and particularly the Elector of Saxony, have obtained all they Edition: current; Page: [102] could reasonably demand; and the empire has preserved its balance of power in spite of its head. The King of Prussia has covered himself with glory, to which he put the finishing stroke by not demanding any compensation for the expenses of the war. All parties have been satisfied except the Emperor, who has disordered his finances, ruined his kingdom of Bohemia with immense fines, has not obtained any advantage over his adversary, and, consequently, has destroyed among his own troops the opinion they had of their superiority; and, in fine, has sustained a loss the most sensible for a young prince just beginning to reign, the reputation of justice and moderation. It is the influence, the address, and ability of the French Minister, joined to the firmness of Russia, which have completed this work;1 and Louis XVI. has restored in Germany, to the nation over which he reigns, that reputation which his grandfather had lost.

The merit of the Chevalier de la Luzerne, who was Ambassador in Bavaria during the transaction of this business, and that of M. Marbois, the Secretary to that Embassy, in accomplishing an affair of such importance, which was rendered peculiarly delicate by the late family connection between the Courts of Vienna and Versailles, was probably a motive for sending them now to America, a mission of no less importance and no less delicacy.

It is not probable, however, that they could have succeeded so soon, if England could have afforded subsidies to the Emperor. The Revolution in America, in which the French King has taken an earlier and a greater part than any other sovereign in Europe, has operated so as to conciliate to him a consideration that is universal. The new minister will give to congress information the most precise in this respect, and touching the part which Spain is taking at this time, for which reason I shall refrain from entering into it, and content myself with observing, that all these considerations ought to induce us to cherish the alliance of France; and that every good citizen of the United States ought to endeavor to destroy the remains of those prejudices which our ancient rulers have endeavored to inspire us with; that we have nothing to fear, and much to hope from Edition: current; Page: [103] France, while we conduct our affairs with good sense and firmness; and that we cannot take too much pains to multiply the commercial relations and strengthen the political connections between the two nations; provided always, that we preserve prudence and resolution enough to receive implicitly no advice whatever, but to judge always for ourselves, and to guard ourselves against those principles in government, and those manners, which are so opposite to our own constitution and to our own characters, as a young people, called by Providence to the most honorable and important of all duties, that of forming establishments for a great nation and a new world.

In the opinion of some, the power with which we shall one day have a relation the most immediate, next to that of France, is Great Britain. But it ought to be considered that this power loses every day her consideration, and runs towards her ruin. Her riches, in which her power consisted, she has lost with us, and never can regain. With us she has lost her Mediterranean trade, her African trade, her German and Holland trade, her ally, Portugal, her ally, Russia, and her natural ally, the House of Austria; at least, as being unable to protect these as she once did, she can obtain no succor from them. In short, one branch of commerce has been lopped off after another, and one political interest sacrificed after another. She resembles the melancholy spectacle of a great wide-spreading tree that has been girdled at the root. Her endeavors to regain these advantages will continually keep alive in her breast the most malevolent passions towards us. Her envy, her jealousy, and resentment will never leave us while we are what we must unavoidably be, her rivals in the fisheries, in various other branches of commerce, and even in naval power. If peace should unhappily be made, leaving Canada, Nova Scotia, or the Floridas, or any of them, in her hands, jealousies and controversies will be perpetually arising. The degree, therefore, of intercourse with this nation, which will ever again take place, may justly be considered as problematical; or rather the probability is, that it will never be so great as some persons imagine; moreover, I think that every citizen, in the present circumstances, who respects his country and the engagements she has taken, ought to abstain from the foresight of a return of friendship between us and the English, and act as if it never was to be.

Edition: current; Page: [104]

But it is lawful to consider that which will probably be formed between the Hollanders and us. The similitude of manners, of religion, and, in some respects, of constitution, the analogy between the means by which the two republics arrived at independency, but, above all, the attractions of commercial interest, will infallibly draw them together. This connection will not probably show itself before a peace or a near prospect of peace. Too many motives of fear or interest place the Hollanders in a dependence on England, to suffer them to connect themselves openly with us at present. Nevertheless, if the King of Prussia could be induced to take us by the hand, his great influence in the United Provinces might contribute greatly to conciliate their friendship for us. Loans of money and the operations of commercial agents or societies will be the first threads of our connections with this power. From the essays and inquiries of your commissioners at Paris, it appears that some money may be borrowed there; and from the success of several enterprises by the way of St. Eustatia, it seems that the trade between the two countries is likely to increase, and, possibly, congress may think it expedient to send a minister there. If they should, it will be proper to give him a discretionary power to produce his commission or not, as he shall find it likely to succeed, to give him full powers and clear instructions concerning the borrowing of money; and the man himself, above all, should have consummate prudence, and a caution and discretion that will be proof against every trial.

If congress could find any means of paying the interest annually in Europe, commercial and pecuniary connections would strengthen themselves from day to day, and if the fall of the credit of England should terminate in bankruptcy, the seven United Provinces having nothing to dissemble, would be zealous for a part of those rich benefits which our commerce offers to the maritime powers, and, by an early treaty with us, secure those advantages, from which they have already discovered strong symptoms of a fear of being excluded by delays. It is scarcely necessary to observe to congress that Holland has lost her influence in Europe to such a degree, that there is little other regard for her remaining, but that of a prodigal heir for a rich usurer, who lends him money at a high interest. The State which is poor and in debt has no political stability. Their army Edition: current; Page: [105] is very small, and their navy is less. The immense riches of individuals may possibly be in some future time the great misfortune of the nation, because the means of defence are not proportioned to the temptation which is held out for some necessitous, avaricious, and formidable neighbor to invade her.

The active commerce of Spain is very inconsiderable; of her passive commerce we shall not fail to have a part; the vicinity of this power, her forces, her resources, ought to make us attentive to her conduct; but if we may judge of the future by the past, I should hope we had nothing to fear from it. The genius and interest of the nation incline it to repose. She cannot determine upon war but in the last extremity, and even then she sighs for peace. She is not possessed of the spirit of conquest, and we have reason to congratulate ourselves that we have her for the nearest and principal neighbor. Her conduct towards us at this time will perhaps appear equivocal and indecisive; her determinations appear to be solely the fruit of the negotiations of the Court of Versailles. But it ought to be considered she has not had motives so pressing as those of France to take in hand our defence. Whether she has an eye upon the Floridas, or what other terms she may expect from congress, they are no doubt better informed than I am. To their wisdom it must be submitted to give her satisfaction, if her terms are moderate and her offers in proportion. This conduct may conciliate her affection and shorten delays, a point of great importance, as the present moment appears to be decisive.

Portugal, under the administration of the Marquis de Pombal, broke some of the shackles by which she was held to England. But the treaty, by which a permanent friendship is established between the Crowns of Spain and Portugal, was made in 1777, an event that the English deplore as the greatest evil, next to the irrecoverable loss of the Colonies arising from this war, because they will now no longer be able to play off Portugal against Spain, in order to draw away her attention, as well as her forces, as in former times. But as Portugal has not known how to deliver herself entirely from the influence of England, we shall have little to hope from her; on the other hand, such is her internal weakness that we have absolutely nothing to fear. We shall necessarily have commerce with her, but whether Edition: current; Page: [106] she will ever have the courage to sacrifice the friendship of England for the sake of it, is uncertain.

It would be endless to consider that infinite number of little sovereignties into which Germany is divided, and develop all their political interests. This task is as much beyond my knowledge as it would be useless to congress. They will have few relations friendly or hostile with this country, excepting in two branches of commerce, that of merchandise and that of soldiers. The latter, infamous and detestable as it is, has been established between a nation once generous, humane, and brave, and certain princes, as avaricious of money as they are prodigal of the blood of their subjects; and such is the scarcity of cash and the avidity for it in Germany, and so little are the rights of humanity understood and respected, that sellers will probably be found as long as buyers. America will never be found in either class. The State of Germany, with which we may have commerce of an honorable kind, is the House of Austria, one of the most powerful in Europe. She possesses very few countries, however, near the sea. Ostend is the principal city, where she might have established a trade of some consequence, if the jealousy of the maritime powers had not constantly opposed it. France, Spain, Holland, and England have been all agreed in their opposition; and the treaty of Utrecht, ratified more than once by subsequent treaties, has so shackled this port, that it will be impossible to open a direct trade to it without some new treaty, which possibly may not be very distant. England may possibly make a new treaty with Austria, and agree to privileges for this port, in order to draw away the advantages of the American trade from France and Spain; and in such a treaty, Holland may possibly acquiesce, if not accede to it. The port of Trieste enjoys liberty without limits; and the Court of Vienna is anxious to make its commerce flourish. Situated as it is at the bottom of the Gulf of Trieste, the remotest part of the Gulf of Venice, tedious and difficult as the navigation of those seas is, we could make little use of it at any time, and none at all while this war continues.

This Court would seize with eagerness the advantages that are presented to her by the independence of America; but an interest more powerful restrains her, and although she is certainly attentive to this revolution, there is reason to believe she Edition: current; Page: [107] will be one of the last powers to acknowledge our independence. She is so far from being rich, that she is destitute of the means of making war without subsidies, as is proved by the peace which has lately been made. She has occasion for the succors of France or of England to put in motion her numerous armies. She conceives easily, that the loss of the resources and credit of the English has disabled them to pay the enormous subsidies which in former times they have poured into the Austrian coffers. She sees, therefore, with a secret mortification, that she shall be hereafter more at the mercy of France, who may choose her ally, and prefer at her pleasure either Austria or Prussia, while neither Vienna nor Berlin will be able, as in times past, to choose between Paris and London, since the latter has lost her past opulence and pecuniary resources. It is our duty to remark these great changes in the system of mankind which have already happened in consequence of the American war. The alienation of Portugal from England, the peace of Germany, and that between Petersburg and Constantinople, by all which events England has lost and France gained such a superiority of influence and power, are owing entirely to the blind diversion of that policy and wealth which the English might have still enjoyed, from the objects of their true interests and honor, to the ruinous American war.

The Court of Berlin flatters itself that the connections which have heretofore so long united France and Prussia will renew themselves sooner or later. This system is more natural than that which subsists at this day. The King of Prussia may then wait without anxiety the consequences of the present revolution, because it tends to increase the resources of his natural ally. The jealousy between the Emperor and the King of Prussia, and that between the Houses of Bourbon and Austria, are a natural tie between France and Prussia. The rivalry between France and Great Britain is another motive, too natural and too permanent for the former to suffer the King of Prussia to be long the ally of the latter. One of the favorite projects of Prussia, that of rendering the port of Emden a place of flourishing trade, interests him most powerfully in our independence. Silesia, one of his best provinces, has already felt the influence of it, and, sensible of the force that empires derive from commerce, he is earnestly desirous to see it introduced Edition: current; Page: [108] between America and his States; which gives ground to believe, that as Austria will be one of the last, so Prussia will be one of the first to acknowledge our independence; an opinion which is rendered more probable by the answer which was given by the Baron de Schulenburg to Mr. Arthur Lee, and the influence of the King of Prussia in the United Provinces, which is greater than that of any other power, arising from his great military force and the vicinity of his dominions. His near relation to the Stadtholder and the Prince of Brunswick is an additional motive to cultivate his friendship. The Electorate of Saxony, with a fruitful soil, contains a numerous and industrious people, and most of the commerce between the east and the west of Europe passes through it. The fairs of Leipsic have drawn considerable advantages for these four years from our trade. This power will see with pleasure the moment which shall put the last hand to our independence. The rest of Germany, excepting Hamburgh and Bremen, have no means of opening a direct commerce with us; with the latter we have no connection at present; in the former all the commerce of Lower Germany is transacted; here we shall soon have occasion to establish an agent or consul.

Poland, depopulated by the war and a vicious government, reduced by a shameful treaty to two thirds of her ancient dominion, destitute of industry and manufactures, even of the first necessity, has no occasion for the productions of America. Dantzic sees her ancient prosperity diminish every day. There is, therefore, little probability of commerce, and less of any political connection between that nation and us.

Russia, Sweden, and Denmark, comprehended under the denomination of the northern powers, have been thought by some to be interested in our return to the domination of Great Britain. Whether they consider themselves in this light or not, their late declarations against the right of England to interrupt their navigation, and their arming for the protection of their commerce on the ocean, and even in the English channel, are unequivocal proofs of their opinion concerning the right in our contest, and of their intentions not to interfere against us. It is very true that the articles of commerce which they produce, are, in many respects, the same with those of America. Yet, if we consider that we shall have occasion to purchase from them Edition: current; Page: [109] large quantities of hemp and sail-cloth, and that our productions of timber, pitch, tar, and turpentine, are less profitable with us without bounties than some other branches of labor, it is not probable that we shall lower the price of these articles in Europe so much as some conjecture, and, consequently, our increased demand upon those countries for several articles will be more than a compensation to them for the small loss they may sustain, by a trifling reduction in the price of those articles. It is not probable that the Courts of Petersburg, Stockholm, and Copenhagen have viewed with indifference the present revolution. If they have been apprehensive of being hurt by it in some respects, which, however, I think must have been a mistaken apprehension, yet the motive of humbling the pride of the English, who have endeavored to exercise their domination even over the northern seas, and to render the Danish and Swedish flag dependent on theirs, has prevailed over all others, and they are considered in Europe as having given their testimony against the English in this war.

Italy, a country which declines every day from its ancient prosperity, offers few objects to our speculations. The privileges of the port of Leghorn, nevertheless, may render it useful to our ships when our independence shall be acknowledged by Great Britain, if, as we once flattered ourselves, the Court of Vienna might receive an American minister. We were equally in error respecting the Court of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, where an Austrian prince reigns, who receives all his directions from Vienna, in such a manner that he will probably never receive any person in a public character, until the chief of his house has set him the example. The King of the Two Sicilies is in the same dependence on the Court of Madrid, and we may depend upon it, he will conform himself to all it shall suggest to him. This prince has already ordered the ports of his dominions to be open to American vessels, public and private, and has ordered his ambassador at Paris to apply to your commissioners for a description of the American flag, that our vessels might be known, and receive no molestation upon their appearance in his harbors.

The Court of Rome, attached to ancient customs, would be one of the last to acknowledge our independence, if we were to solicit for it. But congress will probably never send a minister Edition: current; Page: [110] to his Holiness, who can do them no service, upon condition of receiving a Catholic legate or nuncio in return; or, in other words, an ecclesiastical tyrant, which, it is to be hoped, the United States will be too wise ever to admit into their territories.

The States of the King of Sardinia are poor, and their commerce is very small. The little port of Villa Franca will probably see few American vessels, nor will there be any close relations, either commercial or political, between this prince and us.

The Republic of Genoa is scarcely known at this day in Europe but by those powers who borrow money. It is possible that some small sums might be obtained there, if congress would fall upon means of insuring a punctual payment of interest in Europe.

Venice, heretofore so powerful, is reduced to a very inconsiderable commerce, and is in an entire state of decay.

Switzerland is another lender of money, but neither her position nor her commerce can occasion any near relation with us.

Whether there is any thing in these remarks worth the trouble of reading, I shall submit to the wisdom of congress, and subscribe myself, with the highest consideration,

Your most obedient and humble servant,
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
10 September, 1779
Braintree

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

Looking over the printed journals of the 15th of last April, I find in the report of the committee appointed to take into consideration the foreign affairs of the United States, and also the conduct of the late and present commissioners of these States, the two following articles.

1. “That it appears to them, that Dr. Franklin is Plenipotentiary for these States at the Court of France; Dr. Arthur Lee, Commissioner for the Court of Spain; Mr. William Lee, Commissioner for the Courts of Vienna and Berlin; Mr. Ralph Izard, Commissioner for the Court of Tuscany; that Mr. John Adams was appointed one of the Commissioners at the Court of France in the place of Mr. Deane, who had been appointed a Joint Commissioner with Dr. Franklin and Dr. Arthur Lee, but Edition: current; Page: [111] that the said commission of Mr. Adams is superseded by the plenipotentiary commission to Dr. Franklin.

3. “That in the course of their examination and inquiry, they find many complaints against the said commissioners, and the political and commercial agency of Mr. Deane, which complaints, with the evidence in support thereof, are herewith delivered, and to which the committee beg leave to refer.”

The word “said” in the second article refers to the commissioners mentioned in the first, and, as my name is among them, I learn from hence that there were some complaints against me, and that the evidence in support of them was delivered to congress by the committee.

I therefore pray that I may be favored with copies of those complaints and evidences, and the names of my accusers, and the witnesses against me, that I may take such measures as may be in my power to justify myself to congress.1

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
19 September, 1779
Braintree

TO THE TREASURY BOARD.

Gentlemen,

By the last post, I had the honor of a letter from your secretary, inclosing, by your order, a copy of the resolutions of congress of the 6th of August, relative to the allowance to the late commissioners and their accounts, together with the resolution of your honorable board of the 26th of August, requesting me to inclose my accounts and vouchers to the board of treasury, that they may take order thereon.

I have the honor to transmit, by my worthy friend, Mr. Lowell, my accounts; in the first place, the account of moneys drawn Edition: current; Page: [112] for by Dr. Franklin and me jointly, and the expenditure of them. These moneys, from the time of my arrival at Passy, the 9th of April, 1778, to the end of August following, were received by Dr. Franklin, and the account kept by him of the expenditure. The account marked A is a copy of the account he gave me; but he never showed me any of the vouchers, and I never compared them, so that Mr. Franklin, I suppose, holds himself accountable for them.

From the 1st of October until the new commission arrived, the account was kept by me. At the end of each month I carried my account and vouchers to Dr. Franklin. We looked them over together, and signed the account, except the last, when Dr. Franklin being so ill of the gout, and I being engaged in settling my affairs in order to come away, it was omitted. I transmit the vouchers for all the time that the account was kept by me; but I have one request to make with respect to these, but more especially with respect to my private vouchers, which is, that when the honorable board have made the use of them they intend, they would deliver them to Mr. Gerry to be returned to me, being necessary for the security of my reputation, as well as against new demands of payment. The account thus kept by me, and signed monthly by my colleague and myself, is marked B. The large articles of family expenses and postage of letters are here inserted only in the large. Dr. Franklin has the original books of account of all these particulars, with other receipts in them.

The account marked C is my private account of moneys received by me singly, and includes what money I received of the navy board at Boston before my departure; what I received of the continental agents at Bordeaux, Nantes, Lorient, &c.; what I received of Mr. Franklin out of the moneys drawn for jointly, and what I received of Mr. Grand, the banker, either with my own hand or by drafts upon him; the amount of all which, exclusive of a draft for Mr. Deane’s furniture, is livres.

The account marked D is a particular account of all my expenses, the amount of which is

This includes the expense of all my journeys from Bordeaux to Paris, from Paris to Nantes, from Nantes to Brest, from Brest back again to Nantes, the expenses of clothing for myself Edition: current; Page: [113] and servants, and, in general, all my particular expenses of every kind. During the time that the joint account was kept by Mr. Franklin, the honorable board will see that Mr. Franklin paid all these articles out of the joint stock which I was paying for out of my particular. The effect to the public is the same; but it was necessary to make the observation, in order to explain the articles.

The honorable board will also see in this account of mine several articles for books. I found myself in France ill-versed in the language, the literature, the science, the laws, customs, and manners of that country, and had the mortification to find my colleagues very little better informed than myself, vain as this may seem. I found also that Dr. Franklin, Mr. Deane, and Mr. Lee had expended considerable sums for books, and this appeared to me one of the most necessary and useful ways in which money had ever been spent in that country. I therefore did not hesitate to expend the sums mentioned in this account in this way, in the purchase of such a collection of books as were calculated to qualify me for conversation and for business, especially the science of negotiation. Accordingly the books are a collection of books concerning the French language, and criticism concerning French history, laws, customs, and manners, but above all a large collection of books on the public law of Europe, and the letters and memoirs of those ambassadors and public ministers who had acquired the fairest fame, and had done the greatest services to their countries in this way.

The honorable board will judge whether this is a “reasonable expense,” and whether it ought or ought not to be deducted from the allowance. I shall submit to their judgment with entire satisfaction.

All the articles in both accounts which were for my son, will, no doubt, be deducted from my allowance. Yet I ought to observe that Mr. Izard and Mr. William Lee have supported their families; Dr. Franklin has two grandsons, and Mr. A Lee a nephew; Mr. Deane two brothers, and afterwards a son; all that I desire is, that I may be treated like the others.

I departed from my own house the 13th of February, 1778, and happily arrived at it again the 2d of August, 1779. How far the honorable board will judge the resolution of congress, Edition: current; Page: [114] allowing three months after the recall, applicable to me, I do not know; indeed, whether I am recalled to this moment, I do not know. All I desire is, a reasonable compensation for the time I was actually in the service, and this was in fact from the day that I received my commission, which was in December, 1777; for from that day I was obliged to avoid all engagements in private business, and to devote myself to the preparation for my voyage as much as at any time after.

I shall send, by this opportunity, all the vouchers I have; when I was making journeys from place to place it was impossible for me to take receipts of postilions, tavern-keepers, and twenty other sorts of people for small sums; but I presume no man will say his expenses have been, or can be less than mine.

The United States have no house-rent, or hire of chariots or horses, or horsemen, or servants, or furniture of houses to pay for me. None of these things, except the servant who went with me, were ever added to the public expenses on my account. There are two or three small sums in the account, paid to Mr. Austin for services while he acted as my secretary, perhaps six weeks, which is all the expense the public bore for secretaries to me. I do not mention this as a virtue or merit, for I am convinced it was an error; and I would never advise any other gentleman to follow my example in these particulars.

I was obliged to be at some expense for bedding on board the Sensible in my passage home, as the board will see.

I submit the whole to the consideration of the board, only requesting that I may be informed what articles are allowed in the settlement of my account, under the head of reasonable expenses, and what are not.1

I have the honor to be, with great respect to the honorable board,

Their most obedient and most humble servant,
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [115]
Le Chevalier de la Luzerne
de la Luzerne, Le Chevalier
29 Septembre, 1779
Philadelphie
John Adams
Adams, John

THE CHEVALIER DE LA LUZERNE TO JOHN ADAMS.

Monsieur,

Je m’applaudis bien sincèrement d’avoir prévu que votre séjour en Amérique ne seroit pas de longue durée, et je félicite vos compatriotes du choix qu’ils ont fait de vous, pour aller négocier la paix qui doit assurer le repos des treize Etats. Vous y porterez la modération et l’équité qui m’ont paru faire le fond de votre caractère, et vous êtes sûr d’avance de trouver en France le ministère du roi dans les mêmes dispositions. Le choix du congrès est approuvé par toutes les personnes bien intentionnées en Amérique; on y applaudira également en Europe, et je vous réponds des suffrages et de la confiance de toutes les personnes dont vous serez connu. Vous travaillerez, monsieur, à donner la paix à votre pays, et mes soins auront pour objet de resserrer les noeuds qui unissent votre nation et la mienne. Nos travaux auront donc quelque analogie, et je vous prie d’être bien persuadé que je prendrai une part immédiate a vos succès.

La frégate la “Sensible” est toujours dans le port de Boston: il dépendra de vous, monsieur, de vous concerter avec M. de Chavagnes en cas que vous vous déterminiez à partir avec lui. Je suis persuadé d’avance que le ministre de la marine trouvera qu’on ne pouvoit faire un meilleur usage de ce vaisseau qu’en l’employant à vous ramener en Europe.

J’ai l’honneur d’être, avec le plus inviolable attachement, monsieur, votre très humble et très obéissant serviteur,

Le Chevalier de la Luzerne.
Le Chevalier de la Luzerne
de la Luzerne, Le Chevalier
M. Gérard
Gérard, M.
Captain Chavagnes
Chavagnes, Captain

THE CHEVALIER DE LA LUZERNE TO CAPTAIN CHAVAGNES.

La mission, monsieur, dont le congrès vient de charger Monsieur Jean Adams, est d’une telle importance que Monsieur Edition: current; Page: [116] Gérard et moi avons pensé qu’il falloit prendre les mesures les plus promptes, et les plus sûres, pour assurer son passage. Nous avons en conséquence proposé au congrès, de se servir de votre frégate pour le transport de ce ministre, et notre proposition a été accepté. Cependant le congrès y a mis luimême la condition que M. Adams feroit les dispositions convenables pour son départ dans une intervalle de temps raisonnable, et qu’il ne seroit pas de nature à retenir votre frégate trop long temps, je vous réitère donc, monsieur, la prière que je vous ai déjà faite, de vous concerter avec monsieur Adams touchant les mesures qu’il jugera apropos de prendre pour son départ. J’espère que, eu égard à la nature de la circonstance, le ministre approuvera entièrement le délai que vous serez dans le cas de mettre à votre départ, et je suis bien persuadé, d’un autre coté, que M. Jean Adams mettra toute la célérité possible dans les préparatifs de son départ.

Le Chevalier de la Luzerne.

Je pense entièrement, monsieur, comme M. le Chevalier de la Luzerne, et je joins mes instances aux siennes.

Gérard.
M. De Marbois
De Marbois, M.
29 Septembre, 1779
Philadelphie
John Adams
Adams, John

M. DE MARBOIS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Monsieur,

Je n’ai que le tems de vous marquer combien j’ai pris de part au choix que vos compatriotes viennent de faire de vous, pour aller négocier la paix en Europe. J’ai été réellement touché de l’unanimité et de l’empressement avec lequel tous les esprits se sont réunis dans l’opinion qu’ils ont conçue de vous, et dans la persuasion qu’un ministre sans prejugés et sans autre passion que celle du bonheur de son pays et de la conservation de l’alliance, etoit l’homme le plus propre à conduire l’important ouvrage de la paix.

Je désire beaucoup, monsieur, que vous reconduisiez en Europe M. votre fils, malgré l’éloignement qu’il a pour la navigation. Il apprendra de vous les moyens d’être un jour utile à son pays, et vos préceptes et vos sentimens lui apprendront à chérir ma nation, qui sent de jour en jour davantage combien Edition: current; Page: [117] son union avec vous est naturelle et réciproquement avantageuse.

Je suis, avec respect, monsieur, votre très humble et très obéissant serviteur,

De Marbois.
John Adams
Adams, John
6 October, 1779
Braintree
M. De Sartine
De Sartine, M.

TO M. DE SARTINE.

Sir,

The “Sensible” intending to sail in a few days, it is my duty to embrace the opportunity of acknowledging my obligations to his Majesty and to your Excellency for the favor of a passage in this frigate, which was rendered the more honorable and agreeable to me by the company of his Excellency, the Chevalier de la Luzerne, and M. Marbois, two characters that I have every reason to believe will be peculiarly useful and acceptable in this country.

Your Excellency will permit me also to express my obligations to Captain Chavagnes and the other officers of the frigate, for their civilities, as these gentlemen, upon all occasions, discovered a particular attention and solicitude to render all the circumstances of the voyage as agreeable as possible to me and the other passengers, as well as to protect the merchant vessels under their convoy.

I hope and believe they have neither seen nor heard any thing here among the people of this country, but what has a tendency to give them a favorable opinion of their allies.

I have the honor to be, with the highest consideration,
Your Excellency’s most obedient and humble servant,
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
17 October, 1779
Braintree
M. De La Luzerne
De La Luzerne, M.

TO M. DE LA LUZERNE.

Sir,

I have the honor of your letter from Philadelphia of the 29th of September, and return you my sincere thanks for your kind congratulations on the honor which has been done me in my election to an important negotiation in Europe. The sentiments your Excellency is pleased to express of my Edition: current; Page: [118] character and of the good opinion of my own countrymen in general, are exceedingly flattering to me.

There is no character in which I could act with so much pleasure as in that of a peacemaker. But alas! sir, when I reflect upon the importance, the delicacy, intricacy, and danger of the service, I feel a great deal of diffidence in myself. Yet, when I consider the remarkable unanimity with which I was chosen, after congress had been so long distressed with the appearance of their foreign affairs, and so divided in sentiment about most other characters, I am penetrated with a sense of the honor done to me, more than I can express.

Your Excellency may be assured that, wherever I go, I shall carry with me the highest opinion of the wisdom, the equity, and policy of the present minister from France, and the fullest persuasion that his negotiations will be reciprocally advantageous to the allies, and incessantly tending to strengthen the ties of interest and good-will that at present unite them.

Your Excellency will be pleased to accept of my thanks for the favor of a passage in the frigate, the Sensible. I have not yet received from congress any despatches. As soon as they arrive, I shall immediately wait on Captain Chavagnes, and the frigate shall not be unnecessarily detained on my account. I will either embark immediately, or inform the captain that I cannot have the pleasure to go with him.

I must also request of your Excellency to present my respectful compliments and thanks to M. Gérard for so obligingly joining his instances with yours to the captain of the frigate for my passage in her.

I have the honor to be, with the sincerest attachment, &c.

John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
17 October, 1779
Braintree
M. De Marbois
De Marbois, M.

TO M. DE MARBOIS.

My Dear Sir,

I had the honor of your favor of the 29th of September by express, and I thank you for your kind compliments and congratulations on my election to the momentous office of peacemaker. I am really, sir, much affected with the unanimity with which the congress has conferred this honor upon me. I cannot be sufficiently sensible of the favorable opinion you express Edition: current; Page: [119] of me. But I feel myself agitated with too many very strong passions, relative to myself and my family, besides those which regard the prosperity of my country and the conservation of the alliance, to subscribe entirely to that opinion.

My little son, sir, is very sensible of the honor you have done him in mentioning his name upon this occasion, but I believe it will be my duty to leave him at home, that his education may be where his life is to be spent. He has already learned to esteem and respect the French nation, and that sentiment will, I hope, never leave him.

In whatever country I may be, I shall never forget the agreeable hours I have passed with M. de Marbois, nor cease to hope for his honor and prosperity.

I hope you have found every thing as agreeable at Philadelphia as you could expect, and that all circumstances will become from day to day more and more so. I am very ambitious of carrying with me to Europe any despatches which his Excellency, the Chevalier, may think proper to intrust to my care, especially letters to his friends, among whom I have particularly in my eye M. Malesherbes. I request also the same favor from you, sir, and have the honor to be,

With an affectionate respect, &c.
John Adams.
Samuel Huntington
Huntington, Samuel
20 October, 1779
Philadelphia
John Adams
Adams, John

THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

I have the honor to transmit you herewith inclosed two commissions, wherein you are authorized and appointed minister plenipotentiary from these United States, to negotiate treaties of peace and commerce with Great Britain, accompanied with instructions in each case for your government in the execution of those several commissions.

For your further information and benefit are inclosed copies of the instructions to the Hon. Benjamin Franklin and John Jay, Esquire, our Ministers Plenipotentiary at the Courts of Versailles and Madrid.

Also two acts of congress of the 4th and 15th instants, ascertaining your salary, and making provision for your subsistence on your arrival in France.

Edition: current; Page: [120]

The nature and importance of the trust committed to your charge, will, I persuade myself, engage your immediate attention, and induce you to undertake the service and embark for France without loss of time.

Wishing you a prosperous voyage, and success in your embassy, I have the honor to be, with sentiments of the highest esteem and regard,

Your humble servant,
Samuel Huntington, President.

P. S. The Hon. Francis Dana, Esquire, is appointed your Secretary.

John Adams
Adams, John
4 November, 1779
Braintree

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I had yesterday the honor of receiving your letter of the 20th of October, inclosed with two commissions, appointing me minister plenipotentiary from the United States to negotiate peace and commerce with Great Britain, together with instructions for my government in the execution of these commissions, copies of instructions to the ministers plenipotentiary at Versailles and Madrid, and two acts of congress of the 4th and 15th of October.

Peace is an object of such vast importance, the interests to be adjusted in the negotiations to obtain it are so complicated and so delicate, and the difficulty of giving even general satisfaction is so great, that I feel myself more distressed at the prospect of executing the trust, than at the thought of leaving my country, and again encountering the dangers of the seas and of enemies. Yet, when I reflect on the general voice in my favor, and the high honor that is done me by this appointment, I feel the warmest sentiments of gratitude to congress, and shall make no hesitation to accept it, and devote myself without reserve or loss of time to the discharge of it. My success, however, may depend, in a very great degree, on the intelligence and advices that I may receive from time to time from congress, and on the punctuality with which several articles in my instructions may be kept secret. It shall be my most earnest endeavor to transmit to congress the most constant and exact information Edition: current; Page: [121] in my power, of whatever may occur, and to conceal those instructions which depend in any measure on my judgment. And I hope I need not suggest to congress the necessity of communicating to me as early as possible their commands from time to time, and of keeping all the discretionary articles an impenetrable secret; a suggestion, however, that the constitution of that sovereignty which I have the honor to represent might excuse.

As the frigate has been some time waiting, I shall embark in eight or ten days at furthest. Your Excellency will please to present my most dutiful respects to congress, and accept my thanks for the polite and obliging manner in which you have communicated their commands.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
15 February, 1780
Paris

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I have the honor to inform congress, that on the 9th of this month, and not before, I had the good fortune to arrive in this city from Ferrol (where I arrived on the 8th of December) with Mr. Dana, Mr. Thaxter, and the rest of the company in tolerable health, after a journey of near five hundred leagues, in the dead of winter, through bad roads and worse accommodations of every kind. We lost no time, more than was indispensable to restore our health, which was several times much affected and in great danger; yet we were more than twice as long in making the journey by land as we had been in crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

The next morning after our arrival in Paris, Mr. Dana and myself went out to Passy, and spent the day with his Excellency, Dr. Franklin, who did us the honor the next day to accompany us to Versailles, where we had the honor to wait on their Excellencies, the Count de Vergennes, M. de Sartine, and the Count Maurepas, with each of whom we had the honor of a short conference upon the state of public affairs. It is sufficient for me at present to say, in general, that I never heard the French ministry so frank, so explicit, so decided, as each of these was in the course of this conversation, in his declarations Edition: current; Page: [122] to pursue the war with vigor, and to afford effectual aid to the United States. I learned with great satisfaction that they are sending, under convoy, clothing and arms for fifteen thousand men to America; that seventeen ships of the line were already gone to the West Indies under M. de Guichen, and that five or six more at least are to follow, in addition to ten or twelve they have already there.

I asked permission of the Count de Vergennes to write to him on the subject of my mission, which he cheerfully and politely agreed to. I have accordingly written to his Excellency, and shall forward copies of my letter and of his answer as soon as it may be safe to do it.

The English are to borrow twelve millions this year, and it is said the loan is filled up. They have thrown a sop to Ireland, but have not appeased her rage. They give out exactly such threats as they did last year, and every other year, of terrible preparations. But congress knows perfectly well how these menaces have been accomplished. They will not be more fully executed the next year than the last, and if France and Spain should throw more of their force, especially by sea, into America the next year, America will have no essential injury to fear.

I have learned, since my arrival at Paris, with the highest pleasure, the arrival of M. Gérard, Mr. Jay, and Mr. Carmichael at Cadiz, for whose safety we had been under great apprehensions. I have now very sanguine hopes that a solid treaty will soon be concluded with Spain; hopes which every thing I saw and heard in that country seemed to favor.

The Alliance frigate, now under the command of Captain Jones, with Captain Cunningham on board, is arrived at Corunna, where she is to be careened, after which she is to return to Lorient, and from thence to go to America, as I am informed by Dr. Franklin.

Mr. Arthur Lee and Mr. Izard are still in Paris, under many difficulties in procuring a passage home. Mr. William Lee is at Brussels. Mr. Izard has been to Holland to obtain a passage from thence, but unfortunately missed his opportunity, and returned disappointed.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [123]
John Adams
Adams, John
18 February, 1780
Paris
Marquis De Lafayette
De Lafayette, Marquis

TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE.

My Dear General,

You know extremely well the skill of our enemies in forging false news, and their artifice in circulating it, not only through the various parts of Europe, but in the United States of America, to keep up the spirits of their friends and depress those of their adversaries. It is their annual custom in the winter to send abroad large cargoes of these lies, and they meet with a success in making them believed, that is really astonishing.

Since my arrival here, I find they have been this winter at their old game again, and have circulated reports here, in Holland, and other parts of Europe, that they have made new contracts with other petty princes in Germany, by which, together with those made before, they will be able to draw seven thousand fresh troops from that country to serve in America; that, by appeasing the troubles in Ireland, they shall be able to avail themselves even of the military associations in that kingdom, by depending upon them for the defence of the country, and to draw near ten thousand men from thence for the service in America; that they have concluded a treaty with the Court of Petersburg, by which Russia is to furnish them with twelve ships of the line and twenty thousand men, which they say is of the more importance, on account of the intimate connection between Russia and Denmark, as the latter will be likely by this means to be drawn into the war with their numerous fleet of forty-five ships of the line. The greatest part of these tales are false, I know very well; and what is said of Russia is so contrary to all that I have heard of the good understanding between Versailles and Russia, that I have no doubt of its falsehood. But as I am very lately arrived, and consequently have not had opportunity to examine these reports to the bottom, I beg the favor of you to inform me with all the exactness possible, how much truth there is in them, if any at all.

You are very sensible that it is of the utmost importance that congress should have the earliest information of these things, and that you and I cannot render a more useful service to our country at present than by collecting such intelligence Edition: current; Page: [124] with precision, and transmitting it without delay. Knowing the pleasure you take in serving the United States in every way in your power, I thought I could beg this favor of you with propriety, and that you would believe me always

Your assured friend and servant,
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
18 February, 1780
Paris
M. Genet
Genet, M.

TO M. GENET.

Dear Sir,

Whether it is that the art of political lying is better understood in England than in any other country, or whether it is more practised there than elsewhere, or whether it is accidental that they have more success in making their fictions gain credit in the world, I know not. But it is certain that every winter since the commencement of the present war with America, and indeed for some years before, they sent out large quantities of this manufacture over all Europe and throughout all America; and what is astonishing is, that they should still find numbers in every country ready to take them off their hands.

Since my arrival in this city, I find they have been this winter at their old trade, and have spread reports here and in Holland and in various other parts of Europe, and, no doubt, they have found means to propagate them in America, too, tending to keep up the spirits of their well-wishers and to sink those of their opponents. Such as, that they have made new contracts with several German princes, by which they are to obtain seven thousand men to serve in America; that they have so skilfully appeased the troubles in Ireland, that they shall even be able to take advantage of the military associations there, by depending upon them for the defence of the kingdom, while they draw from thence ten thousand regular troops for the service in America; that they have even concluded a treaty with Russia, by which the Empress is to furnish them with twelve ships of the line and twenty thousand men, as some say, and twenty ships of the line and twelve thousand men, as others relate. This, they say, is of the greater moment, because of an intimate connection (I know not of what nature it is) between Russia and Denmark, by which the latter will be likely to be drawn into Edition: current; Page: [125] the war against the House of Bourbon and America; and Denmark, they say, has forty-five ships of the line.

I know very well that the greatest part of these reports is false; and particularly what is said of Russia is so contrary to all that I have heard for these twelve months past of the harmony between Versailles and Petersburg, that I give no credit to it at all; but I find that all these reports make impressions on some minds, and among the rest, on some Americans.

I therefore beg the favor of you to inform me of the exact truth in all these matters, that I may take the earliest opportunity of transmitting the intelligence to congress, where it is of importance that it should be known.

I was much mortified, when I was at Versailles the other day, that I could not have the honor of paying my respects to you; but I was so connected with other gentlemen, who were obliged to return to dinner, that I could not; but I shall take the first opportunity I can get to wait on you, and assure you that I am,

With great respect, &c.
John Adams.
M. De Lafayette
De Lafayette, M.
19 February, 1780
Paris
John Adams
Adams, John

M. DE LAFAYETTE TO JOHN ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

As I came but this morning from Versailles, it was not in my power sooner to answer the letter you have honored me with, and this duty I now perform with the more pleasure, as it is of some importance to the interests of America. Since the first day, when I had the happiness of making myself and of being considered in the world as an American, I have always observed that among so many ways of attacking our liberties, and among the most ungenerous ones, treachery and falsehood have ever been the first weapons on which the British nation has the most depended.

I am glad it is in my power generally to assure you that the many reports propagated by them and alluded to in your letter are not founded upon truth. New contracts with petty German princes have not, I believe, taken place; and if any such merchandise were sent to America, it would at most consist of a few recruits. The troubles in Ireland, if there is the least common sense among the first patriots of that country, are not, Edition: current; Page: [126] I hope, at an end, and it seems they now begin to raise new expectations. The Russian troops, so much talked of in their gazettes, I take to be mere recruits for those thirty thousand Russians that Mr. Rivington had three years ago ordered to embark for America.

Those intelligences, my dear sir, must be counteracted by letters to our friends in America. But as the respect we owe to the free citizens of the United States makes it a point of duty for us never to deceive them, and as the most candid frankness must ever distinguish our side of the question from the cause of tyranny and falsehood, I intend paying to-morrow morning a visit to the minister of foreign affairs, and from him get such minute intelligence as shall answer your purpose.

With the most sincere regard, I have the honor to be, &c.

Lafayette, M. G.

P. S. On my return from Versailles, my dear sir, where I will settle the affairs of arms that I have undertaken, I will impart to you a project privately relating to me, that is not inconsistent with my sentiments for our country, America.

M. Genet
Genet, M.
20 February, 1780
Versailles
John Adams
Adams, John

M. GENET TO JOHN ADAMS.
(Translation.)

Sir,

You have feared to be troublesome to the Count de Vergennes, and you have done me the honor of addressing yourself to me, in order to know what you are to think of several rumors which the English have endeavored to spread. I am infinitely flattered by the mark of confidence which you have been pleased to give me, but I have felt it my duty to lay your letter before the minister. He has directed me to assure you, that on every occasion he will be very happy to have you address yourself directly to him, and that you will always find him eager to satisfy your inquiries.

He has remarked, as well as yourself, the address which our enemies use to circulate false reports, and especially to make Europe believe that the Americans are making advances to them, in order to treat of an arrangement with them. The Edition: current; Page: [127] Count de Vergennes is as well persuaded of the contrary as he is confident that no new treaty has been negotiated with the princes of Germany, and that no levies are making there but for the sake of filling up the old ones. He does not think that the news of the treaty with Russia, nor that which relates to the Court of Denmark, are better founded. He has told me that I might do myself the honor to write you that all those rumors are false, and that you run no risk in presenting them as such to the persons on whom you think they may have made some impression, whether in Europe or in America.

I am extremely anxious to have the honor to see you, and congratulate you on your happy return. As I can but seldom go to Paris, I hope your business will permit you to do me the honor to call at my house and accept of a family dinner.

I have the honor to be, &c.
Genet.
John Adams
Adams, John
20 February, 1780
Paris

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

Since my arrival in Europe, I have had the mortification to see in the public papers a series of little successes which our enemies have had in the prosecution of the war. The first was a very exaggerated account in the English Court Gazette of their successes against the Spaniards in South America. The next was the history of the repulse of General Lincoln and the Count d’Estaing at Savannah, and the raising the siege of that post. These were soon followed by the capture of the Spanish fleet of transport ships by Rodney’s squadron, and the advantage gained by that admiral over the Spanish ships of war, after a most gallant resistance, however, off Gibraltar.

These small triumphs, although chiefly of the defensive and negative kind, and a poor compensation for the blood and the millions they are annually wasting, are, however, sufficient to cheer the spirits of the British populace, and to banish from the minds of the ministry all thoughts of peace upon reasonable terms; for the English in the present war act upon a maxim diametrically opposite to that of the Romans, and never think Edition: current; Page: [128] of peace upon any event fortunate to them, but are anxious for it under every great adversity.

A report of my appointment having also been carried to England by the cartels from Boston, and being spread in Europe by various other ways, by passengers in the Committee,1 by French passengers in the Sensible, of whom there were a great number who had heard of it in all companies in America, and by many private letters, and the English ministerial writers having made use of this as evidence of a drooping spirit in America, in order to favor their loan of money, I thought it my best policy to communicate my appointment and powers to the French Court, and ask their advice, as our good allies, how to proceed in the present emergency. I accordingly wrote to his Excellency, the Count de Vergennes, the letter of the 12th of February, a copy of which is inclosed, and received his answer of the 15th, a copy of which is inclosed, to which I replied in a letter of the 19th, a copy of which is also inclosed.2 When I shall receive his Excellency’s answer, I shall do myself the honor to inclose that.

If there is any thing in these letters of mine which is not con formable to the views and sentiments of congress, I wish to be instructed in it, or if congress should not concur in sentiment with his Excellency, the Count, I shall obey their orders with the utmost punctuality and alacrity. I have ever understood that congress were first advised to the measure of appointing a minister to negotiate peace by the French Minister, then at Philadelphia, in the name of the Count de Vergennes. However this may have been, it cannot be improper to have some one in Europe empowered to think and treat of peace, which some time or other must come.

Since my last, which was of yesterday’s date, I have had opportunity to make more particular inquiries concerning the pretended treaty with Russia, and am informed that the English ministry did, not long since, make a formal application by their ambassador to the Empress of Russia for a body of troops and a number of ships; but that the application was opposed with great spirit and ability in the Russian Council, particularly by the minister for foreign affairs, and rejected in council with great Edition: current; Page: [129] unanimity: and that the harmony between Versailles and Petersburg remains as perfect as when I left France.

I have the honor to be, with very great respect, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
24 February, 1780
Paris
M. Genet
Genet, M.

TO M. GENET.

Dear Sir,

I have received the letter which you did me the honor to write me the 20th of this month.

I was cautious of troubling the minister with an application directly to him upon a subject like that of my letter to you; but I thank you for the trouble you have taken in laying it before him. The kind expressions of his Excellency’s confidence, and his readiness to receive any application directly from me, do me great honor; and I shall not fail of paying my respects to him upon proper occasions.

I am happy to have his Excellency’s authority to counteract the delusive artifices of our enemies; and he may be equally assured that the reports of advances made by the Americans towards an arrangement with the English are equally groundless.

I hope to have soon the honor of paying my respects to you at Versailles.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
28 February, 1780
Paris
General Knox
Knox, General

TO GENERAL KNOX.

Dear Sir,

Your friend, the Marquis, with whom I have sometimes had the honor to drink your health after that of General Washington, will deliver you this. His love of glory is not diminished, nor his affection for America, as you see by his return. He has been indefatigable in endeavors to promote the welfare and comfort of our army, as well as to support their honor and character, and has had success in both.

He has had a share in convincing this Court of the policy and necessity of transferring their exertions into the American seas, and, I hope, he will in time assist in bringing Spain into Edition: current; Page: [130] the same system. But time is necessary to bring nations to comprehend new systems of policy, and everybody has, some time or other, an opportunity of throwing in light. France and Spain are not yet habituated to reasoning upon the new connection, nor are they yet sensible of all the advantages they might derive from it, in the prosecution of the war. France is, however, more convinced of it this year than last. But I have not time to say more, except that I am, as usual,

Your friend,
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
8 March, 1780
Captain Landais
Landais, Captain

TO CAPTAIN LANDAIS.

These may certify that on the 8th day of March, 1779, I set off from Passy to Nantes, expecting to meet the Alliance frigate and go in her to America. When I arrived at Nantes, I learned from the American agent that the Alliance was still at Brest; and, by Captain Landais’s letters, it was uncertain how long she would remain there, upon which I determined to take a journey to Brest, to assist if I could in expediting her. Upon my arrival, there were thirty-eight prisoners on board, charged with having been concerned in a mutiny or conspiracy in the passage from Boston, whom Captain Landais had not been able to obtain permission to put on shore, which he thought necessary to be done before he could go to sea with safety. The frigate wanted stores and repairs, which he could not obtain until some one would become responsible for the pay for them, which Mr. Costentin declined doing until he had orders either from the American minister at court, or the American agent at Nantes; that Mr. Costentin, on my arrival, told me he had just received orders from Mr. Schweighauser to take my advice, which he took accordingly, and engaged to pay for what was wanted; and after an application from me and Captain Landais to the Intendant, and afterwards from me in writing, the prisoners were permitted to be sent on shore, and the stores and repairs were provided.

Certified at the request of Captain Landais, at Paris, the 8th day of March, 1780.

John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [131]
John Adams
Adams, John
12 March, 1780
Paris

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

It is an observation made some years ago by a great writer of this nation, De Mably, that “the project of being sole master of the sea, and of commanding all the commerce, is not less chimerical nor less ruinous than that of universal monarchy on land; and it is to be wished, for the happiness of Europe, that the English may be convinced of this truth before they shall learn it by their own experience. France has already repeated several times that it was necessary to establish an equilibrium, a balance of power at sea, and she has not yet convinced anybody, because she is the dominant power, and because they suspect her to desire the abasement of the English, only that she may domineer the more surely on the continent. But if England abuses her power, and would exercise a kind of tyranny over commerce, presently all the States that have vessels and sailors, astonished that they had not before believed France, will join themselves to assist her in avenging her injuries.”1

The present conjuncture of affairs resembles so exactly the case here put, that it seems to be a literal fulfilment of a prophecy.

A domination upon the sea is so much the more dangerous to other maritime powers and commercial nations, as it is more difficult to form alliances and combine forces at sea than at land. For which reason it is essential that the sovereign of every commercial State should make his nation’s flag respected in all the seas and by all the nations of the world. The English have ever acted upon this principle, in supporting the honor of their own flag, but of late years have grown less and less attentive to it, as it respects the honor of other flags. Not content with making their flag respectable, they have grown more and more ambitious of making it terrible. Unwilling to do as they would be done by, and to treat other commercial nations as they have insisted upon being treated by them, they have grown continually more and more haughty, turbulent, and insolent Edition: current; Page: [132] upon the seas, and are now never satisfied until they have made all other nations see that they despise them upon that element. It is said by the Baron de Bielfield, that piracies and robberies at sea are so odious, so atrocious, and so destructive to the interest of all the European nations, that every thing is permitted to repress them. Providence has not granted to any people an exclusive empire upon the seas. To aim at setting up a master there, to prescribe laws to other free nations, is an outrage to all Europe.

I have quoted these authorities, because they contain the true principle upon which, as I have ever conceived, the English began this war, and upon which they will assuredly continue it as long as they can get men and money, which will be as long as they have success. They contain also the true principles of France, Spain, and Holland, and all the powers of Europe. The outrages committed upon the Dutch commerce, and the insults offered to their flag, ought to be, and are alarming to all the maritime powers. The late successes of the English will have no tendency to allay the fears of these powers; on the contrary, they will increase the alarm, by showing the precarious situation they will all be in if England should finally succeed, which some of them may, perhaps, apprehend from the late brilliant fortune of Admiral Rodney.

One cannot but be struck with the rapid series of fortunate incidents for the English, which have been published here in about the course of three months that I have been in Europe. The little affair of Omoa began it; the repulse of Savannah succeeded, with all its consequences; the Curraçoa fleet was next; Langara’s fleet soon followed; Gibraltar was relieved; Don Gaston’s squadron was dispersed by a storm; and Admiral Rodney had opportunity to get safe out of Gibraltar. The French East India fleet brings up the rear. There is hardly in history such a series of events, that no human wisdom could provide against or foresee. Yet, after all, the advantages gained are by no means decisive, although, no doubt, it will raise the ambition of the English, and, in some degree, damp the ardor of their enemies.

It must not have this effect, however, upon America. Let the maritime powers fare as they will, we must be free; and I trust in God we shall be so, whatever be their fate. The events Edition: current; Page: [133] of war are uncertain at sea, more than even by land; but America has resources for the final defence of her liberty, which Britain will never be able to exhaust, though she should exhaust France and Spain; and it may not impossibly be our hard fate, but it will be our unfading glory, finally to turn the scale of the war, to humble the pride which is so terrible to the commercial nations of Europe, and to produce a balance of power on the seas. To this end, Americans must be soldiers and seamen.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
15 March, 1780
Lorient
John Adams
Adams, John

ARTHUR LEE TO JOHN ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

By the bursting of the lock of one of my trunks on the journey, I was so unfortunate as to lose the packet of M. Gérard’s letters, among which was that you copied, and of which I must beg you to send me an authenticated copy.

Since my arrival here, I received a packet from congress, which came by the Confederacy. In that is a copy of one of the most false and wicked papers I have read upon the subject, given in to congress by Mr. Carmichael. In that he says,—“I have frequently declared that Mr. A. Lee had not the confidence of the Court of France. My reasons for this declaration are, among others, the Chevalier Grand and his brother, Mr. Grand, gentlemen who, at various times, acted as secret agents between the commissioners and the Court of France, in whose assertions I placed confidence, because I saw the Court intrusted them with secrets of the highest importance, and because I never found myself deceived by these gentlemen in any other information I had the honor to receive from them while employed by the commissioners abroad. I was informed, and believe, that this want of confidence arose from information given by M. Garnier, Chargé des Affaires for the Court of Versailles at London.”1

Edition: current; Page: [134]

You will oblige me much, if you will show this extract to Mr. Grand and M. Garnier, and write me what they say to it. I always entertained, and do still entertain, too high an opinion, both of Mr. Grand’s veracity and discretion, to believe he ever told Mr. Carmichael what he here asserts. But I shall change my opinion, if he refuses to contradict this assertion, since it has been made with a manifest design of injuring me and imposing upon congress. As Mr. Carmichael could not know that these gentlemen were intrusted with secrets of the highest importance by the Court, unless they communicated those secrets to him, I do not see how any other conclusion can be drawn from what Mr. Carmichael says of them, but that either they were not so trusted, or that they betrayed their trust in such communication to him. I cannot determine whether Mr. Deane or Mr. Carmichael is the most contemptible liar. And I confess to you, sir, that it astonishes me that such contemptible and manifestly malignant performances should have had the smallest influence on any one man of common sense or common honesty in or out of congress.

We have no news here, nor is it likely we shall sail this month. I beg my compliments to Mr. Dana.

With the greatest esteem, I am, dear sir,
Your most obedient servant,
Arthur Lee.
William Lee
Lee, William
17 March, 1780
Bruxelles
John Adams
Adams, John

WILLIAM LEE TO JOHN ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

I understand that our enemies have now in contemplation the offering of some terms to America, which go no farther than a truce; probably somewhat similar to the propositions made last year by Spain to Great Britain.

Though I am not informed of the terms of peace with which you are charged, nor whether your powers are discretionary, I trust you will not think it an intrusion in me to offer my sentiments Edition: current; Page: [135] on such a proposition as a truce for America, supposing it should be made.

A truce with America must, of course, accompany a peace in Europe; in that case, our enemies, after recovering from their present exhausted state, having their hands clear of European troubles, would have their whole strength to employ against America; for, I conceive, that with such a prospect before them, there would not be the most distant probability of agreeing on a peace before the expiration of the truce.

In America we must keep up a great military and naval establishment to prevent our being taken by surprise, at nearly as great an expense as we are now at in war, and besides risk the dreadful misfortunes which have almost universally attended standing armies and a heavy load of debt on the state. I cannot suppose it possible that France and Spain would consent to a truce with America while the war is to continue between Great Britain and them; but if they should, would it be wise in America to accept of a truce on such terms, and to let our allies run the hazard of being destroyed, that we may become an easy prey afterwards?

These are some of the evident objections to a truce in any shape, nor can I see any possible argument in its favor, though I know there are some Americans, though well-intentioned, but visionary geniuses, whose heads run much on the idea of a truce; but I hope nothing will be attended to, unless they are fair, open, and honorable propositions for a substantial and lasting peace, in which blessed work I most heartily wish you speedy and full success.

The Dutch are in a very disturbed state; as yet there does not seem to be a probability of their taking a decided and open part with us in the war. The influence and power of the Prince of Orange are unfortunately too great to permit them to adopt those measures which their honor and interest direct, and which, I believe, a great majority of the people wish. The Prince is retained against us by the flattering prospect of marrying his daughter to the Prince of Wales; but in Europe where every thing is bought and sold, France and Spain may do great things; for the confidant and director of the Prince is as mercenary a wretch as can be found in England or even in Scotland.

We shall probably see Mr. Laurens here in his way to Holland; Edition: current; Page: [136] but if he does not pass through this town, I shall be much obliged to you for giving me any interesting public intelligence that he brings.

Be pleased to present my respects to Mr. Dana; and if I can be of any service here in promoting the great work you have in hand, or in rendering any services to our country, I shall be always happy in receiving your commands, being with great esteem, dear sir,

Your most obliged and obedient servant,
W. Lee.
John Adams
Adams, John
24 March, 1780
Paris

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

Mr. Burke’s bill not being as yet public, we are not yet informed of the items of it. But as it already appears that it strikes at the department of secretary of state for America and at the board of trade, there seems to be little reason to doubt that it goes further, and strikes at the American board of commissioners, at all the American judges of admiralty, governors of provinces, secretaries, and custom-house officers of all denominations. At least, if this should not be found to be a part of the bill, there are stronger reasons, if possible, for abolishing this whole system of iniquity, together with all the pensions granted to the refugees from America, than even for taking away the board of trade. And from several late paragraphs in the papers, and from Mr. Fox’s severe observations in the house of commons upon Governor Hutchinson, calling him in substance the “firebrand that lighted up all the fire between the two countries,” it seems pretty clear that it is in contemplation to take away all these salaries and pensions.

If such a measure should take place, exiled as these persons are from the country which gave them birth, but which they have most ungratefully endeavored to enslave, they will become melancholy monuments of divine vengeance against such unnatural and impious behavior. Nevertheless, as these persons are numerous, and have some friends in England as well as in America, where they had once much property, there is a probability, I think, that whenever or wherever negotiations for peace may be commenced, they and their estates, now almost universally Edition: current; Page: [137] confiscated, will not be forgotten. But much pains and art will be employed to stipulate for them, in the treaty, both a restoration of their property and a right to return as citizens of the States to which they formerly belonged. It is very possible, however, that before a treaty shall be made, or even negotiations commenced, these gentlemen will become so unpopular and odious that the people of England would be pleased with their sufferings and punishment. But it is most probable that the Court will not abandon them very easily.

I should, therefore, be very happy to have the explicit instructions of congress upon this head, whether I am to agree, in any case whatsoever, to an article which shall admit either of their return or the restoration of their forfeited estates. There are sentiments of humanity and forgiveness which plead on one side; there are reasons of state and political motives, among which the danger of admitting such mischievous persons as citizens is not the least considerable, which argue on the other. I shall obey the instructions of congress with the utmost pleasure, or if for any reasons they choose to leave it at discretion, if I ever should have the opportunity, I shall determine it without listening to any passions of my own of compassion or resentment, according to my best judgment of the public good.

There is another point of very great importance, which I am persuaded will be aimed at by the English ministers; I am sure it will by the people of England, whenever terms of peace shall be talked of. For facilitating the return of commerce, they will wish to have it stipulated by the treaty, that the subjects of Great Britain shall have the rights of citizens in America, and the citizens of the United States the rights of subjects in the British dominions. Some of the consequences of such an agreement to them and to us are obvious and very important; but they are so numerous, and it is so difficult to determine whether the benefits or the inconveniences prevail, that I should be sorry to have so great a question left to my determination. If, however, contrary to my inclinations, it should fall to my lot to decide it without instructions, it shall be decided according to my conscience and the best lights I have.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [138]
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur
26 March, 1780
Lorient
John Adams
Adams, John

ARTHUR LEE TO JOHN ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

I have but one moment to thank you for your favor, with one from London inclosed, which I received on my return from Brest. We are likely to be detained here by the prize money for the Serapis, &c. not being paid, without which the crew of the Alliance threaten a mutiny.

If, as I apprehend it may, the application I requested you to make to Mr. G., should at all interfere with your plan, which I think very prudent, of keeping as free as possible from those disputes, which indeed are a reproach to us, I beg you will think no more of it. What has been Gérard’s conduct since his arrival, and what his reception? He is a man to be observed narrowly. I do not mean on my account, but on that of the public, to which I think he will yet do much mischief if he is listened to. Farewell.

John Adams
Adams, John
30 March, 1780
Paris

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I have the honor to inclose to congress copies of certain letters which I have had the honor to write to the Count de Vergennes, and of others which I have received from him.

It seems that the presentations of the American commissioners and ministers plenipotentiary have not been inserted in the Gazette, which occasioned some uneasiness in the minds of some of our countrymen, as they thought it a neglect of us, and a distinction between our sovereign and others. The inclosed letters will explain this matter, and show that no distinction has been made between the representatives of the United States and those of other powers.

I ought to confess to congress that the delicacy of the Count de Vergennes, about communicating my powers, is not perfectly consonant to my manner of thinking; and if I had followed my own judgment I should have pursued a bolder plan, by communicating immediately after my arrival, to Lord George Germaine my full powers to treat both of peace and commerce; but I hope congress will approve of my communicating first to Edition: current; Page: [139] this Court my destination, and asking their advice, and then pursuing it, because I think no doubt can be made that it is my duty to conduct my negotiations at present in concert with our ally, as I have hitherto done.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count
30 March, 1780
Versailles
John Adams
Adams, John

COUNT DE VERGENNES TO JOHN ADAMS.
(Translation.)

Sir,

I have received the letter1 which you did me the honor to write on the 21st instant. I remember very well to have said to you that your presentation should be inserted in the Gazette of France; but, from the information I have obtained, I am convinced that the presentations, whether of ambassadors or ministers plenipotentiary, have never been announced in our Gazette, so that it would savor of affectation to insert yours. As a substitute, I will have it mentioned, if you wish, in the Mercure de France, and you can, without any hazard, take measures to have the notice repeated in the foreign gazettes.

I have the honor to be, &c.
De Vergennes.

P. S. I inclose the draft of an article, which I propose to have inserted in the Mercure. I shall not send it till you have given me your opinion of it.

Le S. Adams que le congrès des États Unis de l’Amérique a désigné pour assistre aux conférences pour la paix lorsqu’il y aura lieu, est arrive depuis quelque temps ici et a eu l’honneur d’être présenté au roi et à la famille royale.

Edition: current; Page: [140]
John Adams
Adams, John
30 March, 1780
Paris
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count

TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Sir,

I have the honor of your Excellency’s letter of this day, in answer to mine of the 21st of this month. Until the receipt of it, I had taken it for granted that the presentation of every ambassador was regularly inserted in the Gazette of France; and, until very lately, several days since the date of my letter to your Excellency of the 21st of this month, I had supposed that the presentation of ministers plenipotentiary was constantly inserted likewise.

The information your Excellency has given me, that the presentations neither of ambassadors nor ministers plenipotentiary have ever been inserted, has perfectly satisfied me, and, I doubt not, will equally satisfy my countrymen who have heretofore been under the same mistake with myself.

I approve very much of your Excellency’s proposition of inserting my presentation in the Mercury of France, and I shall take measures to have it repeated in the foreign gazettes.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
William Lee
Lee, William
30 March, 1780
Brussels
John Adams
Adams, John

WILLIAM LEE TO JOHN ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

I have had the honor of receiving yours of the 21st instant. The name of the person you wish to know, is the Duke of Brunswick, brother to Prince Ferdinand, Field Marshal and Commander-in-Chief of the Dutch land force. He is not liked by his family, as they conceive he is too much attached to the House of Austria.

The quintuple alliance that you mention, I conceive, is only the conjecture of some politicians; for there is not in fact any solid appearance of the Dutch resenting like men or an independent nation the cruel injuries and insults (that would be intolerable to any other people) which they have received from the English. The Prince of Orange, the better to deceive, and perhaps reflecting on the fate of De Witt, pretended to resent highly the insult offered to his flag; but you will agree with Edition: current; Page: [141] me that it must be only a pretence, when you know that Admiral Byland is to be honorably acquitted; and, in consequence, it is expected that the best captain in the Dutch navy will resign.

I hope you did not construe my last into any design of drawing from you any of the secrets of your mission, for, believe me, I have no such curiosity, being quite satisfied with that information respecting it, which the world is, and has been a long time in possession of; and besides, I know too well how extremely necessary circumspection and secrecy are to procure success to a negotiation.

Diffidence and distrust of an enemy are always warrantable, but particularly so when one has had repeated experience of their duplicity and treachery; the fatal experience of the Dutch in the negotiations at Gertruydenberg, as well as many other examples, teach us that distrust and resentment should not be carried to unreasonable lengths.

A great and good man has wisely observed that the best time to make peace is, when your enemy wishes for it; and I hope that the affairs of Ireland, with vigorous and well-directed operations on our part this campaign, will reduce our enemies to wish for peace in earnest before this year ends; although they seem to be getting the better of the opposition at home, which, it appears, they are determined to do, either by fraud or violence, as the papers will tell you how narrowly the life of Lord Shelburne has escaped one of the Scotch assassins.1

With infinite pleasure, I shall communicate to you what information I may receive in my retirement, of the nature you require; but I apprehend that a few hundred pounds sterling per annum, properly applied, might procure you such intelligence as would be worth millions to America; for, in our enemies’ quarters, every thing goes by purchase and sale; therefore, it was high time for us to have done with them.

We have no intelligence of the arrival of Mr. Laurens, though there are letters which mention his being embarked.

The Spaniards will do well to keep a watchful eye on the Edition: current; Page: [142] buccaneering expedition now preparing in England against their possessions in South America.

I have the honor to be, &c. &c.
William Lee.
John Adams
Adams, John
31 March, 1780
Paris
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur

TO ARTHUR LEE.

Dear Sir,

I have received yours of the 26th and that of the 15th of this month. I inclose a copy of the letter you desire.

M. Garnier is gone into the country, and I have not seen him since I arrived here. Mr. Izard, however, has seen him, and will give you a satisfactory account of what he says.

If I were to apply to the other gentleman, you know what would be the consequence. It would fly very soon to, you know where, and I should have only the credit of meddling unnecessarily with disputes which I have kept out of as much as I could, and which it is certainly now the public interest, and consequently my duty, to keep out of as much as I can; I had, therefore, rather be excused. The gentleman himself would probably give you the same answer to a letter from you directly to him as he would give to me, unless I should use arts with him, which would be unworthy of you as well as me, and which I cannot use with anybody.

I shall have enough to do to steer my little bark among the rocks and shoals. I shall have perplexities enough of my own, which I cannot avoid, and dangers too. These I shall meet with a steady mind, and perhaps none of them will be greater than that, which I think my duty, of avoiding things that do not belong to me.

Scarcely ever any minister executed a commission for making a peace, without ruining his own reputation, in a free government. No minister that ever existed had a more difficult and dangerous peace to make than I have.

The gentleman you mention has hitherto been very still; but he has been well received by all that I have learnt.

Adieu.

John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [143]
John Adams
Adams, John
2 April, 1780
Paris
William Lee
Lee, William

TO WILLIAM LEE.

Dear Sir,

Your favor of the 30th of March is just come to hand, and I thank you for it. I did not construe any thing in your last into a design of drawing from me any of the secrets of my mission; indeed, there is no secret in it, but my instructions, which will, I hope, remain so until they are executed, if that time should ever come.

I have had reasons, however, for saying nothing till now about my commission, but those reasons exist no more. I have indeed the honor to be minister plenipotentiary with full powers, with the ambassadors or ministers from France and Great Britain, and all other princes and states whom it may concern, to enter into conferences, negotiations, and treaties for peace.

When our enemy will wish for peace so far as to think of it in earnest, I know not. Peace concerns her more than any of the belligerent powers. America even can sustain the war, although it will be irksome and grievous, infinitely better than England. America grows more powerful, more numerous, more brave, and better disciplined every year of the war, and more independent too, both in spirit and circumstances. Their trade, it is true, does not flourish as it did, but their agriculture, arts, and manufactures increase in proportion to the decline of their trade. England is wasting away, notwithstanding the violence of her convulsive struggles, in wealth, in commerce, in manufactures, in sailors, soldiers, population, and, above all, in political consideration among the powers of Europe every day. Her reputation, which is a more durable source of power, and a more constant cause of prosperity to states as well as individuals, declines amidst all her activity, exertions, and successes. The hopes and fears of other nations are turning by degrees from her to other people, and these she will find it harder to regain than even the good will of America, which is also leaving her every day. The English nation do not seem to me to see any thing in its true light, or weigh any thing in a just balance. The points already gained by Ireland do not appear to be understood in England in their consequences; if she should carry the other points she aims at, she will become a Edition: current; Page: [144] dangerous rival to Great Britain in trade, and even in political power, and dangerous to her even in military; and she must and will carry those points, if this war is continued. Yet the predominant temper drowns all in England. Their pride, revenge, and habits of domineering will not suffer them to listen to any thing that does not soothe these lively passions.

The fury that appears among the members of parliament convinces me that the opposition is more formidable than you seem to think it. The committees go on, and although I do not found my expectations upon characters that now appear, I know that these committees will bring up others to public view who will do the work. When a society gets disturbed, men of great talents and good qualities are always found or made.

I think I am perfectly sure of myself that I shall never be led much astray by my resentments against the English, however strong they may have been, and however justly founded. Distrust of them I have, quite separate from all resentment, so fixed by twenty years’ incessant attention to their policy, that it is very possible they may be in earnest about terms of peace before I shall believe it; but this error, I hope, will do neither them nor me any harm.

I wish you had been more particular concerning that buccaneering expedition which you say is preparing in England against the Spanish possessions in South America.

Nothing from America, nor from Mr. Laurens. Adieu.

John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
8 April, 1780
Paris
W. Carmichael
Carmichael, W.

TO W. CARMICHAEL.

Sir,

I have this moment the honor of your letter from Madrid, of the 29th of February, as I suppose, although the month is not mentioned. I thank you, sir, for commencing a correspondence which I have for some time wished to begin. I wrote to Mr. Jay, at Madrid, the 22d of February, and wish to know if he has received the letter. It is certainly proper that those who are intrusted abroad should maintain a correspondence and cultivate a good understanding with each other, Edition: current; Page: [145] because, although their departments are in some respects separate, yet in others they are intimately connected. From all that I heard in Spain, I expected that you would meet with an agreeable reception at Madrid; and I am much pleased to learn from you that I was not mistaken.

I have sometimes wondered at the slowness of Spain in making a treaty with us; but, when I reflected upon a certain secret article, my surprise ceased.1 We are already bound in a treaty to her, but she is not bound to us. It would be ungenerous in her, however, to hold us long in this situation. The treaty, notwithstanding all that has been justly said of the advantages to us, is not less advantageous to our allies. The single article that binds us to exclude all armed vessels of the enemies of our allies in all future wars from our ports, is worth more millions to them than this war will cost; nay, it will be a severer loss to Great Britain than all that she has spent in it. Whether Great Britain has considered this or not I do not, know; but she will some time or other discover it, and feel the inconvenience of it.

You ask for news from America. A vessel from Baltimore is arrived at Bordeaux, but not a single letter to Dr. Franklin or me. She brings two or three Baltimore newspapers, one as late as the 15th of February. A hard winter, deep snows, uncommon frosts; frozen over from Connecticut to Long Island, and from New Jersey to Staten Island. Lord Sterling went over to Staten Island with a party on the ice, burnt a few vessels and a guard-house, took a few prisoners, and brought off a few deserters. Some New Jersey people went over at the same time, and plundered without mercy. Finding the communication open with New York, which had been supposed to be obstructed by the ice, he returned. An article from a Fishkill paper says, that Clinton and Cornwallis sailed the 26th of December with seven thousand men for the West Indies, but that the storm which happened soon after their departure was supposed to have done him mischief. A ship, brig, and schooner lost in the storm on Cape Cod, unknown who or whence; all perished. Congress had recommended to all the States to regulate prices at twenty for one, which, by the speculations in the papers, was not well liked. Governor Johnson a delegate Edition: current; Page: [146] for Maryland, General Ward for Massachusetts, in the room of Mr. Dana (who desires me to return you his compliments and respects.) The other delegates as last year. This is all the news I can recollect, having seen the papers only a few minutes in a large company.

The general state of affairs appears very well. I see no probability of England’s obtaining an ally; on the contrary, there are many symptoms of an approaching combination of the maritime powers to protect neutral ships from searches and insults. Ireland is in the full career of independence. England seems determined to force Holland into a war against her, that she may have an opportunity to plunder her.

The correspondences and associations in England distress the ministry very much; and, if the war continues, and they should not be very successful, it seems likely that they would save us the trouble of despatching them. I wish, however, that France and Spain were more convinced of the advantages they have in America and the West Indies. The more ships they send into those seas, the more they will force England to send there; the more she sends there, the weaker she is in Europe, and the less she is dreaded and respected. Holland, Ireland, the opposition in England, and the other maritime powers all feel a confidence rising in proportion to the diminution of the British naval force in Europe, besides the innumerable advantages the French and Spaniards have in supporting the war in the American seas over the English, which they have not in Europe; but I am apprehensive of being tedious. My compliments to Mr. Jay and his family.

I am, with much respect, &c.
John Adams.
Thomas Digges
Digges, Thomas
14 April, 1780
London
John Adams
Adams, John

T. DIGGES TO JOHN ADAMS.
(Extract.)

Every day seems to produce more advocates or wishers for withdrawing the troops from America, or giving up an offensive war in that country. A motion was to have been made this day in the commons, relative to the state of the war in that country, and to push the ministry for the giving up the principles Edition: current; Page: [147] of that war, and to go seriously to some accommodation. The voice of the majority of the people is decidedly for some such accommodation; but there is no one who can devise the means by which it can be done. Though most of my parliamentary acquaintance are for giving the independence, none of them seem bold enough to stand forth and move it in the house. The time is certainly not yet arrived when it would go down there, but I do not think it very distant; and, I am sure, had the topic been debated to-day, there would have appeared a manifest disposition in the house to abandon the principles of the war in America; and it seems as if ministry wished to feel the pulse of the house on that subject. A new and unexpected matter put off the whole affair. The speaker, without appearing to be very ill, stood up and declared a wish to resign, from not being able through illness to go on with the business of the house.1 It appeared as much a political as a real illness, and I dare say some new movements, perhaps in the administration, may be the consequence. He has not, however, resigned, and the house is adjourned for the benefit of his health till next Monday week; perhaps it may then be too late to renew the intended motion about America, or the state of the war there. The possession of Charleston, if but for a week, or the taking two or three men-of-war from their enemies, may make these wise heads think their arms invincible, and that they may have some better success by prosecuting the war a little further.

I wish you every success and happiness, and am,
With very great regard, your obedient servant,
W. S. C.2
Edition: current; Page: [148]
John Adams
Adams, John
18 April, 1780
Paris

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

It is my duty to transmit to congress, as soon as prudence will admit, every thing which deserves consideration, as having either a direct or an indirect tendency to peace, or even to negotiations for that important object. The inclosed letter has been transmitted to Paris through such a channel, that I have reasons to believe it was particularly intended for my inspection. It is from a gentleman, who, to do him justice, has long expressed an earnest desire for peace, but who, nevertheless, has never yet reflected maturely enough upon the state of America, of Great Britain, and of all Europe, to get into a right way of thinking concerning the proper means to his end.1 Congress will perceive this from the letter itself, in which it is obvious enough.

The first remarkable sentiment is, “We must at all events support our national honor by the most vigorous exertions, without shrinking; but surely, in such a complicated war as this is, if we can make any equitable offers of a treaty to any of the parties, common prudence calls upon us to use our endeavors to unravel by negotiation the combination of powers now acting against us.” In this paragraph I see the manifest marks of a mind that has not yet mastered its subject. True policy would have omitted every thing in this letter which should call up to the minds of the people the ideas of national honor. Every man in the world who is thoroughly acquainted with the subject, knows that Great Britain never can obtain a peace without a diminution of her honor and dignity. It is impossible, without miracles, and therefore the Englishman who undertakes to plan for peace must be convinced of this, and take it into his plan, and consequently should avoid with the utmost caution every word which should excite these ideas in the minds of the people. They stir passions which make them mad.

He should have avoided with equal solicitude every insinuation of a design to unravel by negotiation the combination of powers now acting against Great Britain. This combination Edition: current; Page: [149] is in fact much more extensive, much more universal and formidable, than the letter-writer had any idea or suspicion of. But if it had been no more extensive than France, Spain, and America, the impracticability of unravelling it ought to have been too obvious for the writer to have thrown out this sentiment. By it he proposes by negotiation to bring those to dishonor themselves who have certainly no occasion for it, at the same time that he stimulates others to cherish and preserve their honor who have already lost it, and are under an absolute necessity, sooner or later, of sacrificing it. By this means he only puts the confederates more upon their guard, and renders the attainment of his professed object, peace, impossible.

The next solecism in politics which he commits, is undertaking to vindicate America from the charge of having sought and formed this confederacy. America wanted no such vindication; it is folly to suppose it a fault, for all mankind will agree, even his correspondents themselves, that it was wisdom and virtue. Surely another turn must be given to popular ideas before they will be brought to petition for peace.

Nor do I think it was prudent in him to hold up the idea that America had proceeded with reluctance and regret to the treaty. That this is true, I know and feel to this very moment; for, although I had no such reluctance myself, those gentlemen with whom I had the honor to sit in congress at the time, will remember that I had very good reasons to be sensible that others had. But how well soever he might be informed of the fact, and from what source soever he might draw his information, it was bad policy in him to hold it up, because he ought to have been equally sure that America has now no reluctance to the treaty, nor any inclination to violate it. He ought not, therefore, to have held up a hope of this to the people.

Neither ought he to have flattered the people with hopes that America would not form any perpetual alliance with France, nor that their limited alliance might be satisfied and discharged. The alliance already made is limited, it is true, to a certain number of articles, but not limited in its duration. It is perpetual, and he had no grounds to soothe the people with hopes, either that France would give up any of the articles of the treaty, or that America would violate them.

He ought also to have avoided his insinuations that America Edition: current; Page: [150] has been so much harassed by the war. This is an idea so refreshing to the present passions of the people of England, that, instead of tending to dispose them to peace, it only revives their hopes of success, and inflames their ardor for war. That America has been harassed by the war is true; and when was any nation at war without being so? Especially, when did any nation undergo a revolution in government, and sustain a war at the same time, without it? Yet, after all, America has not been so much harassed, or distressed, or terrified, or panic-struck from the beginning, as Great Britain has been several times in the course of it.

But the most exceptionable passage of all is this:—“It is apparent to all the world that France might long ago have put an end to that part of the war which has been most distressing to America, if she had chosen so to do. Let the whole system of France be considered from the very beginning down to the late retreat from Savannah, and I think it is impossible to put any other construction upon it but this, namely,—that it has always been the deliberate intention and object of France, for purposes of her own, to encourage the continuation of the war in America, in hopes of exhausting the strength and resources of this country, and of depressing the rising power of America.

Upon this paragraph I scarcely know what remarks to make. But, after deliberating upon it as patiently and maturely as I can, I will clearly write my opinion of it; for my obligations to truth and to my country are antecedent to all other ties.

I am clearly and fully of the opinion, then, that the fact is true that France might have put an end to that part of the war which has been most distressing to America; and I certainly know that the means were extremely simple and obvious, and that they were repeatedly proposed and explained, and urged to the ministry; and I should have had a terrible load of guilt of negligence of my duty upon my conscience, if it had not been done while I had the honor of a commission to this Court. But, when the letter-writer proceeds so far as to say that it was to encourage the continuance of the war, in order to exhaust the strength and resources of Great Britain, I cannot accompany him; much less can I join with him in the opinion that it was to depress the rising power of America. I believe, on the contrary, that France has not wished a continuance of the war, Edition: current; Page: [151] but that she has wished for peace. The war has been attended with too much loss and danger to France to suppose that she wished its continuance: and if she did not wish its continuance at all, she could not wish it to depress the power of America.

She could not wish it, in my opinion, for this reason, because it is not the means to this end. It has a contrary tendency. The longer this war is continued in America, the more will Americans become habituated to the characters of the soldier and the marine. Military virtues and talents and passions will gain strength and additional activity every year while the war lasts; and the more these virtues, talents, and passions are multiplied, the deeper will the foundations of American power be laid, and the more dangerous will it become to some or other of the powers of Europe; to France, as likely as to any other power, because it will be more likely to be ambitious and enterprising, and to aspire at conquests by sea and land.

This idea, however, deserves to be considered with all the attention that Americans can give to it; although I am convinced, by every thing I see and read and hear, that all the powers of Europe, except perhaps the House of Austria, and I am not very clear in that exception, rejoice in the American Revolution, and consider the independence of America as for their interest and happiness in many points of view, both respecting commerce and the balance of Europe; yet I have many reasons to think that not one of them, not even Spain nor France, wishes to see America rise very fast to power. We ought, therefore, to be cautious how we magnify our ideas, and exaggerate our expressions of the generosity and magnanimity of any of these powers. Let us treat them with gratitude, but with dignity. Let us remember what is due to ourselves and to our posterity, as well as to them. Let us, above all things, avoid as much as possible entangling ourselves with their wars or politics. Our business with them, and theirs with us, is commerce, not politics, much less war. America has been the sport of European wars and politics long enough.

I think, however, that this letter-writer was very much mistaken in his judgment when he threw out this language. It could be meant only to excite a jealousy and a quarrel between France and America, or rather to feed the Yorkshire people and the people of England with a hope of exciting such a quarrel. Edition: current; Page: [152] This is not the way to come at a peace. They will never succeed in such a plan, and every attempt towards it is false policy.

The next mistake is, the idea of a reconciliation and federal union with America. This must be intended separate from our allies, which this gentleman ought, before now, to have known is totally impracticable.

I have very little more relish for the notion of a truce. We are in a safer way at war. We cannot make a truce without France. She will never consent that we should make a truce unless she makes a peace; and such alterations may be made in the constitution of the Courts of France and Spain, and in the other Courts and political connections in Europe, before the expiration of the term of a truce, that it would be attended with too much hazard to us. Neither France nor Spain, nor the other powers of Europe, might, after a truce, be ready to go to war again; and unforeseen divisions may be excited among ourselves by artful emissaries from England. We are going on now in the sure and certain road. If we go out of it, we may be lost.

Upon the whole, I think, that this letter-writer should have stated the true situation of Europe, of Great Britain, Ireland, and America.

From this statement, his immediate conclusion should have been, open conferences for peace; make peace with all the world upon the best terms you can. This is the only chance you have for salvation. It must come to this very soon; otherwise, there will be a total dissolution of the British Empire.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
William Carmichael
Carmichael, William
22 April, 1780
Madrid
John Adams
Adams, John

WILLIAM CARMICHAEL TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

I received with much pleasure your obliging letter of the 8th instant, and take the earliest opportunity of thanking you for the information it contained. I should have certainly commenced my correspondence with you earlier, had I thought Mr. Jay would have been constrained by various circumstances to reside so long at Cadiz. Your observations, with respect to the Edition: current; Page: [153] conduct which France and Spain ought to follow, correspond with the opinions of the Swedish and Dutch ministers here, both of whom I have an opportunity of frequently seeing. The crisis seems near when others beside Britain may play the part of the bully.

If the patriots in Ireland are content with that which they have forced Great Britain to grant them, I shall be much mistaken, and their conduct in that case will not correspond with the history of mankind. I resided three months in that kingdom in the year 1768, and am well acquainted with some of the men who now appear to take a lead in their affairs. Some of these will be for pushing things to the greatest extremity, and perhaps would succeed, if they had liberality enough to tolerate a religion against which they have the most violent animosity.

A fleet of twelve sail of the line, besides frigates and other armed vessels, with eleven thousand five hundred men and a fine train of artillery, will sail this month from Cadiz, if it hath not already sailed. The troops embarked the 14th. I suppose that from Brest sails about the same time. From these armaments you may judge whether your ideas for carrying the war into the American seas are not conformable to the intentions of the allies. We have the same news from America which you announce to me, and our papers are as late as the 10th of March. By several captures taken from the enemy, it appears that Arbuthnot’s fleet must have suffered severely, and their dispersion must have been complete; for no news of their arrival in any port was received at Newbury, in Massachusetts Bay, the 14th of March, although they sailed the 26th of December from New York. It appears that congress meant to leave Philadelphia the 1st of April, but to what place is not mentioned. I have advice from Bordeaux that several letters for me arrived in the Buckskin, and were sent on to Madrid. Unhappily I have not received them, which chagrins me not a little. Mr. Jay and family present their respects to you; most of them have been unwell since their arrival here. I beg you to make the proper compliments for me to Mr. Dana, and to believe me,

Your obliged and humble servant,
William Carmichael.
Edition: current; Page: [154]
John Adams
Adams, John
25 April, 1780
Paris
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count

TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Sir,

I have the honor to inform your Excellency that a small schooner has arrived at Nantes from Baltimore, by which came the inclosed newspapers, which I inclose to your Excellency without a moment’s loss of time. I hope, however, your Excellency has received these and many more, and much fuller intelligence by the same vessel; but, as it is possible it may be otherwise, I think it my duty to send them. I have no other news by this vessel as yet, excepting that General Gates was appointed to command the army in Charleston, an event which I esteem of great importance, because there is in the mind of the American soldier an affection for that officer and a confidence in him that will show its effects.

A vessel from Martinique had just arrived with an account that the Dean frigate, Captain Nicholson, had sent in there an English frigate sheathed with copper, mounting twenty-eight guns, which struck after a severe action.

If I should be so happy as to receive any more news from this vessel, I shall have the honor to transmit it to your Excellency.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Jay
Jay, John
26 April, 1780
Madrid
John Adams
Adams, John

JOHN JAY TO JOHN ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

I have at length had the pleasure of receiving your very friendly letter of the 22d February last. It has been very long on the road. Accept my thanks for your kind congratulations, and permit me to assure you that I sincerely rejoice in your having reached the place of your destination, on a business which declares the confidence of America, and for an object, in the attainment of which, I am persuaded you will acquire honor to yourself and advantage to her.

The circumstances you mention as indications of the disposition of Spain, undoubtedly bear the construction you give them. As the Count de Florida Blanca is, I am told, a man of abilities, Edition: current; Page: [155] he doubtless will see and probably recommend the policy of making a deep impression on the hearts of the Americans by a seasonable acknowledgment of their independence, and by affording such immediate aids as their circumstances and the obvious interest of Spain demand. Such measures at this period would turn the respect of America for Spain into lasting attachment, and in that way give strength to every treaty they may form.

Sir John Dalrymple is here; he came from Portugal for the benefit of his lady’s health (as is said). He is now at Aranjuez. He has seen the imperial ambassador, the governor of the city, Senor Campomanes, the Duke of Alva, and several others named to him, I suppose, by Lord Grant, who I find was much respected here. He will return through France to Britain.1 I shall go to Aranjuez the day after to-morrow, and shall form some judgment of his success by the conduct of the court towards America.

I am much obliged by your remarks on the most proper route for letter and intelligence to and from America, and shall profit by them. You may rely on receiving the earliest accounts of whatever interesting information I may obtain; and that I shall be happy in every opportunity of evincing the esteem with which

I am, &c. &c.
John Jay.
John Adams
Adams, John
29 April, 1780
Paris
M. Genet
Genet, M.

TO M. GENET.

Dear Sir,

Do you think it worth while to work into your next article from London the following observations of Lord Bolingbroke?

“The precise point at which the scales of power turn, like that of the solstice in either tropic, is imperceptible to common observation; and, in one case as in the other, some progress must be made in the new direction before the change is perceived. Edition: current; Page: [156] They who are in the sinking scale, for in the political balance of power, unlike to all others, the scale that is empty sinks, and that which is full rises; they who are in the sinking scale do not easily come off from the habitual prejudices of superior wealth, or power, or skill, or courage, nor from the confidence that these prejudices inspire. They who are in the rising scale do not immediately feel their strength, nor assume that confidence in it which successful experience gives them afterwards. They who are the most concerned to watch the variations of this balance, misjudge often in the same manner and from the same prejudices. They continue to dread a power no longer able to hurt them, or they continue to have no apprehensions of a power that grows daily more formidable. Spain verified the first observation when proud and poor and enterprising and feeble, she still thought herself a match for France. France verified the second observation, when the triple alliance stopped the progress of her arms, which alliances much more considerable were not able to effect afterwards. The other principal powers of Europe in their turns have verified the third observation in both its parts.”1

These observations were never more remarkably verified than in these times; the English, proud and poor, and enterprising and feeble, still think themselves a match for France and Spain and America, if not for all the world; but this delirium cannot last long.

France and Spain and Holland continue to dread a power no longer able to hurt them; but this will be over as soon.

England continues to have small apprehensions of powers that grow daily more formidable; but these apprehensions will increase every day.

Your correspondent from London or Antwerp, among his lamentations over the blindness and obstinacy and madness of the ministry, may introduce these observations with propriety enough.

The balance of power was never perhaps shifted in so remarkable a manner and in so short a space of time. If the minds of the French and Spaniards had grown in confidence in proportion to the growth of their power, and if the confidence of Edition: current; Page: [157] the English had decreased in proportion to the diminution of theirs, it would have been all over with England before now. You know very well that Lord Bolingbroke was the most eloquent writer that England ever produced. His political writings, particularly, are more admired than any in that language. His name and authority, added to the obvious truth of these observations, and their apposite application to the present times, will make an impression upon many minds in all the nations at war. If you think so, and that it will increase the spirit of our friends and diminish the insolence of our enemies, as it ought, you will make use of it in your own excellent manner; if not, burn it.

Your friend,
John Adams.
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count
30 Avril, 1780
Versailles
John Adams
Adams, John

COUNT DE VERGENNES TO JOHN ADAMS.

J’ai reçu, monsieur, les deux lettres que vous m’avez fait l’honneur de m’écrire les 25 et 27 de ce mois; je vous fais mes remercimens sincères pour les avis qu’elles renferment, et vous prie de vouloir bien continuer à m’envoyer ceux qui vous viendront de l’Amérique.

J’ai l’honneur d’être très sincèrement, monsieur, votre très humble et très obéissant serviteur,

De Vergennes.
William Carmichael
Carmichael, William
John Adams
Adams, John

W. CARMICHAEL TO JOHN ADAMS.
(Without Date.)

Sir,

I did myself the honor of writing to you last post, in answer to yours of the 8th of April; at that time I had suspicions that a Sir John Dalrymple, who has now been here near three weeks, was employed by Great Britain to sound the disposition of this Court, and, in the mean time, to work under ground for the interests of his own country. I have hitherto been able to trace most of his motions, which are somewhat suspicious. He came hither from Lisbon under pretence, or Edition: current; Page: [158] really on account of his lady’s bad state of health. He had a passport from the ministry here for that purpose, as I have been informed by those who are personally employed about him. He hath visited several of the principal grandees, and all those who were most connected with Lord Grantham. He hath been at Aranjuez, where the royal family is at present; hath seen the French ambassador, and, as I have been told, will soon set out for France. This last circumstance occasions me to give you the present trouble, although I ought to have no other apprehension of his residence here or at Paris at this crisis, unless it be the singularity of the circumstance; for I know he had at one time the confidence of his king, and at least that part of the administration. I have never heard that he hath done any thing to forfeit it. If he is employed in the way I suspect, he may be induced to pay you a visit, if he passes through Paris, which, although it may be unnecessary, induces me to put you on your guard. I shall endeavor to inform you punctually of his route, and shall be always happy, on every occasion, of testifying to you and Mr. Dana how much I am

Your humble servant,
William Carmichael.
Thomas Digges
Digges, Thomas
2 May, 1780
Wandsworth
John Adams
Adams, John

T. DIGGES TO JOHN ADAMS.
(Extract.)

General Conway’s motion relative to America was put off to-day for some future period. Hartley’s stands for Friday, the substance of which you will have in the General Advertiser of the 1st of May. Some deviltry has got into Conway’s head, for he seems to think there is yet a door open for peace with America, short of independence, than which nothing can be so fallacious and absurd. How he can imbibe such notions I cannot think; but I am told he is much in the circle of a Scotch acquaintance, and sometimes talks to refugees, such as Mr. Galloway, Allen, &c. I cannot account for it otherwise, than that he is looking up to the command of the army.

I should be glad, when you see and read the debates upon Edition: current; Page: [159] those motions, to know what you think thereof. I am, on all occasions,

Your obedient servant,
William Russell.1
John Adams
Adams, John
3 May, 1780
Paris
M. Genet
Genet, M.

TO M. GENET.

Dear Sir,

I had, two days ago, the honor to inclose to the minister a Boston Gazette of 21st February, in which is a relation of a glorious combat and cruise of my countryman, Captain Waters, of the Thorn. Let me beg of you, sir, to insert this account in the Gazette and the Mercure. There has not been a more memorable action this war; and the feats of our American frigates and privateers have not been sufficiently published in Europe. It would answer valuable purposes, both by encouraging their honest and brave hearts, and by exciting emulations elsewhere, to give them a little more than they have had of the fame they have deserved. Some of the most skilful, determined, persevering, and successful engagements that have ever happened upon the seas, have been performed by American privateers against the privateers from New York. They have happened upon the coasts and seas of America, which are now very well swept of New York privateers, and have seldom been properly described and published even there, and much more seldom ever inserted in any of the gazettes of Europe; whether it is because the actions of single and small vessels, and these privateers, are not thought worth publishing, or whether it has been for want of some person to procure it to be done.

Yours, most sincerely,
John Adams.
M. Genet
Genet, M.
8 May, 1780
John Adams
Adams, John

M. GENET TO JOHN ADAMS.

Observations from such a masterly hand as Mr. Adams, on the proposals for a general pacification, by the Dean of Gloucester, would be very acceptable. It is obvious his name must be Edition: current; Page: [160] kept secret. We hope for the honor of the company of Mr. Francis Dana and the other gentleman. The proper hour to be here would be at nine in the morning; an American breakfast shall be ready. The ceremony at chapel begins at half after ten.

Genet.
John Adams
Adams, John
9 May, 1780
Paris
M. Genet
Genet, M.

TO M. GENET.1

Dear Sir,

I thank you for your note of yesterday and the papers inclosed.

The Proposals for a general pacification, by the Dean of Gloucester, whether they were written by him or by another, were probably intended to feel the pulse of France or Spain or America. Nay, it is not impossible that they might be intended to sound even so inconsiderable a portion of existence as Mr. John Adams. But it must be something rather more plausibly written, something a little more consonant to reason and to common sense, which will draw out of Mr. Adams his sentiments on the great work of pacification, if ever he should enter into any detail upon this subject, before general conferences take place, which he at present believes he shall not do.

Concealing, however, my name, you may take these few observations upon these proposals.

1. England may be heartily sick of the imprudent part she has taken. This point I shall not dispute with the Dean of Gloucester. Yet I wish she would give some better proof of it than she has done hitherto. But of Americans I can speak with confidence and certainty; and, so far from being sick of the part they have taken, they look upon the past madness of Great Britain which has compelled them to overcome all the prejudices and weak passions which heretofore bound them to her, and to become independent, as the greatest blessing which Edition: current; Page: [161] Providence ever bestowed upon them from the first plantation in the new world. They look upon it that a council of the wisest statesmen and legislators, consulting together on the best means of rendering America happy, free, and great, could not have discovered and digested a system so perfectly adapted to that end as the one which the folly and wickedness of Great Britain have contrived for them. They not only see and feel and rejoice in the amelioration of their forms of government, but in the improvement of their agriculture and their manufactures, and in the discovery that all the omnipotence of British fleets has not been able to prevent their commerce, which is opening and extending every year, as their population is increasing, in the midst of the war.

2. To suppose that France is sick of the part she has taken, is to suppose her to be sick of that conduct which has procured her more respect and consideration in Europe than any step she ever took. It is to suppose her sick of that system which enabled her to negotiate the peace between Russia and the Ottoman Porte, as well as the peace of Teschen; that system which has enabled her to unite in sentiment and affection all the maritime powers, even the United Provinces, in her favor and against England. It is to suppose her sick of that system which has broken off from her rival and natural enemy the most solid part of his strength; a strength that had become so terrible to France, and would soon have been so fatal to her. I do not mean to enlarge.

As to the propositions themselves, it would be wasting time to consider them. Of all the malicious plans of the English against America, none has ever been more so than this. It is calculated only to make America the sport of Britain in future; to put it in her power to be forever fomenting quarrels and wars; and, I am well persuaded, that America would sooner vote for a hundred years’ war.

I may be thought again too sanguine. I have been too sanguine these twenty years; constantly sanguine, yet eternally right.

Adieu,
John Adams.

P. S. I do not see Captain Waters’s engagement yet in any Edition: current; Page: [162] of the papers. I would have sent it to England and Holland for publication, if I had known it could not be printed here.

J. A.
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count
10 May, 1780
Versailles

FROM THE COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Je vous dois des remercimens, monsieur, pour les différentes communications que vous avez bien voulu me faire. Si les notions que renferme la lettre qui vous a été confiée, sont exactes, vous ne devez pas tarder à en avoir la preuve, et dans ce cas il faudra voir quelles ouvertures on jugera à propos de vous faire. Je pense que vous ne devez point refuser de les entendre.

J’ai l’honneur d’être très parfaitement, monsieur, &c.

De Vergennes.
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count
11 May, 1780
Versailles

FROM THE COUNT DE VERGENNES.

M. le Comte de Vergennes est très sensible à la communication que Monsieur Adams a bien voulu lui donner des derniers papiers Américains. Il les lui renvoye ci-joint, et le prie de continuer a lui faire passer tous ceux qu’il recevra.1

De Vergennes.
John Adams
Adams, John
12 May, 1780
Paris
W. Carmichael
Carmichael, W.

TO W. CARMICHAEL.

Sir,

I had, two days ago, the favor of yours without date, and thank you for the history of Sir John Dalrymple, whose memoirs would be sufficient to put me upon my guard, if I knew no more of him. He has seen the imperial ambassador. Pray do you discover any of the sentiments of the Austrian family where you are? The old rivalry between that and Bourbon, the old friendship and alliance with England? The Edition: current; Page: [163] new éclat and power of an old enemy, and the declining forces of an old friend, are circumstances that cannot escape the notice of the sensible and aspiring chief of that great house. The family alliance with France is a lucky circumstance at this time.

I have received a few journals by the way of Amsterdam. Young Colonel Laurens has refused to come to Europe; I suppose smitten with the charms of military glory, and foreseeing the war was turning to his town. You will see, in the public papers, before this reaches you, all the news from America; we are waiting with no small anxiety the arrival of news from Charleston.

De Ternay sailed the 2d, and we hope soon to have the news that the armament from Cadiz is sailed. De Rochambeau is too weak, wherever he is gone; he should have had more force. The Spanish force is very great. But would it not be better policy, both for France and Spain, to send more ships and fewer troops? The British possessions in America, both upon the continent and the islands, depend upon the sea for their existence. According to the bull in the English play, “the strongest ground, or the only ground they stand upon, is the ocean.” By a decided superiority of naval force upon the American coasts and among the islands, under active, vigilant, and enterprising commanders, who will not think it beneath them to cruise for and watch the motions of transports and merchantmen, the trade of America and the islands would flourish, and the supplies of the English be totally cut off. A few French or Spanish men-of-war cruising in the Massachusetts Bay, a few more lying at anchor in the harbor of Rhode Island, and cruising occasionally, a few more lying in the mouth of the Delaware, a few more in Chesapeake Bay, say three ships and three frigates in each, this would make twelve ships of the line and twelve frigates. These would, by cruising themselves occasionally, and giving full scope to our privateers, more certainly ruin the British power than four times that force in Europe. But suppose there was only one ship of the line and two frigates stationed in each, this would be only four ships and eight frigates; these would either totally destroy the British army in America, by starving it, or compel the English to keep more than double their number on the North American station. This Edition: current; Page: [164] would weaken them so much in the West India islands, that the French and Spanish forces there would do whatever they pleased.

I know not the reason of it; but the English do not seem to take Spain into their account at all. They make their calculations to equal or excel the French a little, but reckon the Spaniards for nothing. A very little activity on the part of these would terrify the English beyond measure. I suppose, but it is only conjecture, that the Floridas are the object of the force from Cadiz. Gibraltar occupies another immense force. These forces, however, or the amount of their expenses employed in the American seas and kept constantly in motion, would more certainly ruin the whole British power, and, consequently, more certainly obtain the Floridas, Gibraltar, or whatever else is aimed at, than direct attacks upon those places; attacking these places is endeavoring to lop off single limbs; securing the dominion of the American seas is laying the axe to the root of the tree. But enough of my small politics.

Adieu.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
12 May, 1780
Paris
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count

TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Sir,

I have received the letter which you did me the honor to write to me on the 10th of this month.

Although the writer of the letter, an extract of which I had the honor to inclose to you, may be right in his conjecture, that the British administration wish to know more than they do at present of my sentiments upon the great subject of a pacification, yet I have had too long experience of their principles, views, and tempers, and I know that they are too well acquainted with mine, for me to expect that they will directly convey any propositions to me. When we hear them affirm in parliament that America is upon the point of returning to an allegiance to the King of England, and that they seriously believe that America will return to such an allegiance; when the members of opposition, even those who are the most inclined to peace, such as Mr. Hartley, General Conway, &c., discover plainly, by their motions and arguments, that their object is a separate peace with America, in order to be the better able to gratify their Edition: current; Page: [165] revenge against France and Spain, I can have no expectations that they think of applying to me, because I think they must be convinced of this, at least, that I shall make no separate peace. I thank your Excellency, however, for your sentiment, that I ought to hear them, in case any overtures should be made to me. I should, in such a case, endeavor to hear them with decency and respect; but it would require much philosophy to hear with patience such absurd and extravagant propositions as are published in pamphlets and newspapers and made in parliament, even by the members of opposition, who profess to be most zealous for peace.

Our alliance with France is an honor and a security which have ever been near to my heart. After reflecting long upon the geographical situation of the old world and the new, upon the agriculture, commerce, and political relations of both, upon the connections and oppositions among the nations of the former, and the mutual wants and interests of both, according to such imperfect lights as I was able to obtain, the result has long since been this,—that my country, in case she should once be compelled to break off from Great Britain, would have more just reasons to depend upon a reciprocity of the good offices of friendship from France, Spain, and the other sovereigns who are usually in their system, than upon those in the opposite scale of the balance of power. I have ever thought it, therefore, a natural alliance, and contended for it as a rock of defence.

This object I pursued in congress with persevering assiduity for more than a year, in opposition to other gentlemen of much greater name and abilities than mine; and I had at length the satisfaction to find my countrymen very generally fall in with the same sentiment, and the honor to be appointed to draw the first treaty which was sent to this Court. These facts have been well known in America, even to the tories, and the utility and importance of this alliance being known to be deeply imprinted in my mind and heart, I suppose was a principal cause why the present trust was confided to me by my countrymen. These facts, although they may have been unknown in France, yet, having been known to the tories in America, I cannot suppose they are ignorant of them at the Court of St. James; I therefore think that neither the administration nor Edition: current; Page: [166] opposition in England will ever think of applying to me, until they are brought into such a situation as shall compel them to sue for peace with all the powers at war, which, to be sure, does not appear to be the case at present, nor likely to be, at least before the end of this campaign; nor then either, without some notable good fortune on the part of the allies in the progress of the war.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
13 May, 1780
Paris
John Jay
Jay, John

TO JOHN JAY.

Dear Sir,

I had two days ago the pleasure of yours of the 26th of April, and am very happy to have at last received from your hand an account of your safe arrival in Madrid.

The Count de Florida Blanca is allowed to be a man of abilities, but, somehow or other, there is something in the European understanding different from those we have been used to. Men of the greatest abilities and the most experience are, with great difficulty, brought to see what appears to us as clear as day. It is habit, it is education, prejudice, what you will, but so it is.

I can state a very short argument, that appears to me a demonstration upon French and Spanish principles alone, that it is more for their interest to employ their naval force in America than in Europe; yet it is in vain that you state this to a minister of state. He cannot see it or feel it, at least in its full force, until the proper point of time is past and it is too late. So I think it may be demonstrated that it is the interest of France and Spain to furnish America with a handsome loan of money, or even to grant her subsidies; because a sum of money thus expended would advance the common cause and even their particular interests, by enabling the Americans to make greater exertions than the same sums employed in any other way. But it is in vain to reason in this manner with a European minister of state. He cannot understand you. It is not within the compass of those ideas which he has been accustomed to.

I am happy, however, that at length we have a minister at Edition: current; Page: [167] Madrid; I am persuaded that this will contribute vastly to opening the eyes both of France and Spain. I shall be always obliged to you for intelligence, especially concerning your progress in your affair.

I am, with much esteem, dear sir, your servant,
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
13 May, 1780
Thomas Digges
Digges, Thomas

TO T. DIGGES.1

I have to acknowledge one of 14th of April and one of 2d of May. The parcels have not yet been seen nor heard of; you may stop the London Evening Post and the London Packet for the future; but send on the Courant, if you please. I have not yet received the debate on Conway’s motion; I have seen the paper and read the debate. It is the scene of the goddess in the Dunciad, reading Blackmore to her children. The commons are yawning, while the ministry and Clinton are cementing the union of America by the blood of every province, and binding all to their allies, by compelling them to shed theirs. All is well that ends well. These wise folk are giving France and Spain a consideration in Europe, too, that they had not, and are throwing away their own as nothing worth. Sweden and Denmark are in the same system with Russia and Holland. Indeed, if the ministry had only common information, they would have known that this combination of maritime powers has been forming these eighteen months, and was nearly as well agreed a year ago as it is now. But when a nation is once fundamentally wrong, thus it is. Internal policy, external defence, foreign negotiations, all go away together. The bad consequences of a principle essentially wrong are infinite. The minority mean only to try if they can make peace with America separately, in order to revenge themselves, as they think they can, upon France and Spain. But this is as wrong and as absurd and impracticable as the plans of the ministry. All Edition: current; Page: [168] schemes of reconciliation with America, short of independence, and all plans for peace with America, allowing her independence separate from her allies, are visionary and delusive, disingenuous, corrupt, and wicked. America has taken her equal station, and she will behave with as much honor as any of the nations of the earth.

To say that the Americans are upon the poise, are balancing, and will return to their allegiance to the King of England, is as wild as bedlam. If witnesses cannot be believed, why do not they believe the nature of things? Ask the newspapers which are so free that nothing is spared; congress and everybody is attacked! Yet never a single paragraph was hinting in a most distant manner a wish to return. Ask the town meetings,—those assemblies which dared, readily enough, to think as they pleased, and say what they would, dared attack the king, lords, commons, governors, councils, representatives, judges, and whole armies, under the old government, and which attack everybody and every thing that displeases them at this day! Not one vote, not one instruction to a representative, not one motion, nor so much as one single speech in favor of returning to the leeks of Egypt. Ask the grand and petit juries who dared to tell the judges to their faces they were corrupted, and that they would not serve under them because they had betrayed and overturned the constitution! Not a single juror has ever whispered a wish to return, after being washed, to their wallowing in the mire. The refugees you mention never did know the character of the American people, but they know it now less than ever. They have been long away. The Americans at this day have higher notions of themselves than ever. They think they have gone through the greatest revolution that ever took place among men; that this revolution is as much for the benefit of the generality of mankind in Europe as for their own. They think they should act a base and perfidious part toward the world in general, if they were to go back; that they should manifestly counteract the designs of Providence as well as betray themselves, their posterity, and mankind. The English manifestly think mankind and the world made for their use. Americans do not think so. But why proceed? Time alone can convince.

Adieu.
F. R. S.
Edition: current; Page: [169]
John Adams
Adams, John
15 May, 1780
Paris
John Jay
Jay, John

TO JOHN JAY.

Dear Sir,

I shall not always stand upon ceremonies, 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 British Channel fleet is reckoned this year at from thirty-four to thirty-seven ships of the line; but it is well known that they depend upon seamen to be pressed from their first West India fleet, in order to make up this computation, without which they cannot make 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 the 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, and 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 admit freely 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 discover some sensibility to the injuries which the United States receive from these States, such as Denmark and Portugal? I think they should Edition: current; Page: [170] remonstrate coolly and with dignity; not go to war, nor be in a passion about it; but show that they understand their behavior. Denmark restored Jones’s and Landais’s prizes to England without knowing why. Why would it not do to remonstrate; then prohibit any of the productions of Portugal from being consumed in America?

The prospect brightens in the West Indies. De Guichen has arrived. De la Motte Picquet has defended himself very well, secured his convoys, fought the English, even with inferior force, and got the better. De Guichen’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.

The force from Brest which sailed on the 2d, 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.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
15 May, 1780
Paris
M. Genet
Genet, M.

TO M. GENET.

Dear Sir,

I have engaged a person in London to send me all the political pamphlets as they come out, and some necessary books, as I shall order them. He has sent me already one box and one packet at least, to a Mr. Francis Bowens, merchant, in Ostend. I shall be once more obliged to you, if you would inform me in what way I can soonest get them from thence, and whether there are any regulations which may obstruct this communication. I suppose there are regulations to prevent the introduction of religious or irreligious books; but I shall have none sent me either for or against religion; my bundles will be nothing but politics and a few books that relate to them. If I can get the English pamphlets in this way, I may promise to be of some little use to you now and then in your way. The English have an advantage of us in one point. Their newspapers propagate every thing favorable to them all over Europe immediately, whereas the limitations upon the press in this country prevent us from much of this advantage. Their generals Edition: current; Page: [171] and admirals calculate their despatches for the eye of Europe, for the people, and they adjust them so as to make an impression upon the hopes of their friends and the fears of their enemies, and in this consists full one half of their power.

All governments depend upon the good will of the people. The popular tide of joy and hope and confidence carries away armies and navies to great exertion; for officers and armies and navies are but people. On the contrary, the ebb of sorrow, grief, and despair damps the ardor and activity of officers and men; even the tradesmen, artificers, and laborers, even the mortals adjudged to the galleys, are benumbed by it. The English excite the ardor of their people and of their fleets and armies by falsehood and fiction; their enemies have no occasion for any thing but the truth; this would be enough, if it were known; but the English find means to hide it even from their own eyes.

There is not a more delusive thing in the world than their last despatches from New York; fabricated entirely to impose upon the credulity of friends and enemies. I see thousands of these things every day that might easily be counteracted. I do not wish you to publish any thing against your rules; and if ever I propose any thing of that sort, it will be from ignorance or inattention; and I rely upon your knowledge and prudence to check it. But as I am likely to have a little more leisure than I have had for a long time, if you will give me leave, I will assist you a little in your labors for the public good.

I forget whether the first audience of the Chevalier de la Luzerne has been published in Europe. I inclose it to you. You may print it, if you judge proper; but whether you do or not, I should be glad if you would return it as soon as convenient, because I have no other copy of the journal of those days. The publication of such things confirms the minds of people in their notions of the alliance, and gradually reconciles all to it; the people of England even are gradually familiarized to it in this way, and brought to consider it as unalterable, and a thing to be submitted to.

My compliments to your amiable family.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [172]
M. Genet
Genet, M.
17 May, 1780
Versailles
John Adams
Adams, John

M. GENET TO JOHN ADAMS.

Monsieur,

C’est avec le plus grand plaisir que je faciliterai votre correspondance et que j’accepte les offres que vous voulez bien me faire, qui entrent complètement dans les vues de notre ministre. Je vous répond du plaisir avec lequel il donnera son approbation, pour l’impression dans le Mercure, à tout ce qui nous viendra d’une aussi bonne main, et vous ne devez pas douter du secret qui sera gardé sur votre nom pour tout autre que pour Monseigneur le Comte de Vergennes.

Pour avoir par mon canal les pamphlets qui vous seront addressés, il faut que M. Francis Bowens après les avoir reçus de Londres, mette une nouvelle enveloppe avec mon addresse, et remette les paquets à M. de Bowens, Directeur des Postes à Ostende. Aussitôt que je les aurai reçus je ne manquerai pas de vous les faire passer. Each bundle of the bigness of an ordinary octavo book, and but one at a time.

Les détails sur la première audience du Chevalier de la Luzerne ont paru dans la Gazette de France et dans le Mercure. Je vous renvoye le cahier du Journal du Congrès. Permettez moi de vous observer que le Mercure ne paroit qu’une fois la semaine et que la place que la politique doit y occuper n’est pas fort considérable. Ainsi il conviendra que vos Essays soient de peu de longueur. Il vaut mieux qu’ils ne soient pas de longue haleine et qu’ils paroissent plus souvent. Cette nation-ci lit tout ce qui est court, et elle aime la variété. Il faut saisir son goût pour parvenir à la persuader.

J’ai l’honneur d’étre, &c. &c.
Genet.
John Adams
Adams, John
17 May, 1780
Paris
M. Genet
Genet, M.

TO M. GENET.

Sir,

General Conway, in his speech in the house of commons, on the 6th of May, affirms that the alliance between France and the United States is not natural. Whether it is or not is no doubt a great question. In order to determine whether it is or not, one should consider what is meant by a natural Edition: current; Page: [173] alliance; and I know of no better general rule than this,—when two nations have the same interests in general, they are natural allies; when they have opposite interests, they are natural enemies. The General observes, first, that nature has raised a barrier between France and America; but nature has raised no other barrier than the ocean; and the distance and this barrier are equally great between England and America. The General will not pretend that nature, in the constitution of American minds or bodies, has laid any foundation for friendship or enmity towards one nation more than another.

The General observes further that habit has raised another barrier between France and America. But he should have considered that the habits of affection or enmity between nations are easily changed as circumstances vary, and as essential interests alter. Besides, the fact is, that the horrible perfidy and cruelty of the English towards the Americans, which they have taken care to make universally felt in that country for a long course of years past, have alienated the American mind and heart from the English; and it is now much to be doubted whether any nation of Europe is so universally and heartily detested by them. On the contrary, most of the other nations of Europe have treated them with civility, and France and Spain with esteem, confidence, and affection, which has greatly changed the habits of the Americans in this respect.

The third material of which the general barrier is created, is language. This, no doubt, occasions many difficulties in the communication between the allies; but it is lessening every day. Perhaps no language was ever studied at once by so many persons at a time, in proportion, as the French is now studied in America. And it is certain that English was never so much studied in France as since the Revolution; so that the difficulties of understanding one another are lessening every day.

Religion is the fourth part of the barrier. But let it be considered, first, that there is not enough of religion of any kind among the great in England to make the Americans very fond of them. Secondly, that what religion there is in England, is as far from being the religion of America as that of France. The hierarchy of England is quite as disagreeable to America as that of any other country. Besides, the Americans know Edition: current; Page: [174] very well that the spirit of propagating any religion by conquest, and of making proselytes by force or by intrigue is fled from all other countries of the world in a great measure, and that there is more of this spirit remaining in England than anywhere else. And the Americans had, and have still, more reason to fear the introduction of a religion that is disagreeable to them, at least as far as bishops and hierarchy go, from a connection with England, than with any other nation of Europe. The alliance with France has no article respecting religion. France neither claims nor desires any authority or influence over America in this respect; whereas, England claimed and intended to exercise authority and force over the Americans; at least, so far as to introduce bishops; and the English Society for Propagating Religion in Foreign Parts, has, in fact, for a century, sent large sums of money to America to support their religion there, which really operated as a bribe upon many minds, and was the principal source of toryism. So that upon the whole, the alliance with France is in fact more natural, as far as religion is concerned, than the former connection with Great Britain or any other connection that can be formed.

Indeed, whoever considers attentively this subject will see that these three circumstances of habit, language, and religion will, for the future, operate as natural causes of animosity between England and America, because they will facilitate migration. The loss of liberty, the decay of religion, the horrible national debt, the decline of commerce, of political importance in Europe, and of maritime power, which cannot but take place in England, will tempt numbers of their best people to emigrate to America; and to this, fashions, language, and religion will contribute. The British government will, therefore, see themselves obliged to restrain this by many ways; and, among others, by cultivating an animosity and hatred in the minds of their people against the Americans. Nature has already sufficiently discovered itself, and all the world sees that the British government have for many years, not only indulged in themselves the most unsocial and bitter passions against Americans, but have systematically encouraged them in the people.

After all, the circumstances of modes, language, and religion have much less influence in determining the friendship and Edition: current; Page: [175] enmity of nations than other more essential interests. Commerce is more than all these and many more such circumstances. Now it is easy to see that the commercial interests of England and America will forever hereafter be incompatible. America will take away, or at least diminish, the trade of the English in ship-building, in freight, in the whale-fisheries, in the cod-fisheries, in furs and skins, and in other particulars, too many to enumerate. In this respect, America will not interfere with France; but, on the contrary, will facilitate and benefit the French commerce and marine to a very great degree. Here, then, will be a perpetual rivalry and competition between England and America, and a continual source of animosity and war. America will have occasion for the alliance of France, to defend her against this ill-will of England, as France will stand in need of that of America, to aid her against the natural and continual jealousies and hostility of England.

The boundaries of territory will also be another constant source of disputes. If a peace should unhappily be made, leaving England in possession of Canada, Nova Scotia, the Floridas, or any one spot of ground in America, they will be perpetually encroaching upon the States of America; whereas, France, having renounced all territorial jurisdiction in America, will have no room for controversy.

The people of America, therefore, whose very farmers appear to have considered the interests of nations more profoundly than General Conway, are universally of the opinion, that from the time they declared themselves independent, England became their natural enemy; and as she has been for centuries, and will be, the natural enemy of France and the natural ally of other natural enemies of France, America became the natural friend of France, and she the natural friend of the United States; powers naturally united against a common enemy, whose interests will long continue to be reciprocally secured and promoted by mutual friendship.

It is very strange that the English should thus dogmatically judge of the interests of all other nations. According to them, the Americans are, and have been for many years, acting directly against their own interest; France and Spain have been acting against their own interests; Holland is acting against her own interest: Russia and the northern powers are Edition: current; Page: [176] all acting against their own interests; Ireland is acting against hers, &c.; so that there is only that little island of the whole world that understands its own interest; and of the inhabitants of that, the committees and associations and assemblies are all in the same error with the rest of the world; so that there remains only the ministry and their equivocal and undulating majority among all the people upon the face of the earth who act naturally and according to their own interests. The rest of the world, however, think that they understand themselves very well, and that it is the English or Scottish majority who are mistaken.1

Your friend, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
19 May, 1780
Paris
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count

TO THE COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Sir,

I have the honor to inclose a few newspapers received by the last post from Boston by the way of Bilboa. There is very little news. I have letters as late as the 27th of March.

The most remarkable thing in the Pennsylvania Gazette is, that the great seal of the Province of Pennsylvania was brought into the house of the assembly of that State, and by order of the house defaced and cut to pieces, which, to be sure, is no proof of a desire to go back to their old government. I do not see how they could have expressed a stronger contempt of it.

In the Independent Chronicle of the 9th of March is a list of prizes made by the privateers of the middle district of the Massachusetts Bay only, since the last session of the court of admiralty. They amount to nineteen vessels; which shows that privateering flourishes in those seas, and also shows what havoc may, and probably will be made among the English transports, provision vessels, and merchantmen, when the superiority of the French and Spanish fleets comes to be as clear as it soon will Edition: current; Page: [177] be; perhaps as it is now and has been since the arrival of M. de Guichen.

In a private letter of the 27th of March, I am told, that two prizes had just then arrived, one with four hundred hogsheads of rum, and another with four thousand barrels of flour, pork, and beef, articles much wanted by the enemy, and not at all amiss in Boston.

The convention1 had gone through the constitution of government, and had accepted the report of the committee with some few unessential amendments.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count
24 May, 1780
Versailles
John Adams
Adams, John

COUNT DE VERGENNES TO JOHN ADAMS.
(Translation.)

Sir,

I have received the two letters which you have done me the honor to write to me on the 12th and 19th of the present month. I had no need of your apology to induce me to render justice to the patriotic sentiments with which you are animated. You understand the interests and engagements of your country, and I am persuaded you will never have any other object than to consolidate both the one and the other. You can judge by this, sir, what confidence we place in your principles, and what security we feel beforehand as to the conduct you will hold, in case the Court of London should propose to you overtures of conciliation.

I offer you many thanks for the American gazettes which you have been so kind as to send me. I will take care that they shall all be punctually returned.

I have the honor to be, &c.
De Vergennes.
John Adams
Adams, John
25 May, 1780
Paris
Arthur Lee
Lee, Arthur

TO ARTHUR LEE.

Dear Sir,

Your kind favor of April 12th is yet unanswered. With nothing at all to do, I am as busy as ever I was in my Edition: current; Page: [178] life. Whether any good will result from it time must discover. I have undertaken to inform congress a little more particularly than they are wont to be informed, of some things that have passed in Europe, which will ultimately affect them; but I find it is in vain to put my eyes out by writing; for when letters are written we cannot get them across the water. I have, however, sworn, and I will perform. If it is possible to get letters to them by the way of Spain or Holland, or any other way, let the expense be what it will, they shall go.

I have a very good opinion of Count Sarsfield, and have the honor to see him sometimes, though not so often as I wish. Too many unsuitable characters, it is very certain, have been permitted to meddle in our affairs; but when or how it will be remedied, God only knows. In a country where every thing goes and is done by protection, and where the maxims of government are the direct opposites of ours, I see no prospect of having it otherwise, let who will be in or out.

As to jobs, I never had, and never will have any thing to do in any, let the consequence to me and my family be what it will. The trusts with which you and I have been honored by our country are too sacred to be tarnished by the little selfish intrigues in which the insects about a court are eternally buzzing. If I had neither a sense of duty, nor the pride of virtue, nor any other pride,—if I had no higher principle or quality than vanity, it would mortify this in an extreme degree, to sully and debase so pure a cause by any such practices.

On the characters you mention, I shall never condescend to bestow my confidence, nor my resentment nor contempt. They have ever been treated by me, and ever will be, with justice and civility; but they will never be my friends.

I have received a letter by the way of Bilboa for you, which I do myself the honor to inclose.

I was in hopes you would have been at congress before now. Your situation must be disagreeable, but I know from experience it can be borne.

Pray how do you relish Clinton’s letter?1 I think the policy of France and Spain is pointed out by it in sunbeams. I hope they will profit by it. They seemed to be convinced of it before Edition: current; Page: [179] this letter arrived. They have now the testimony of our enemy to the truth and justice of what you and I had the honor to represent to them, in conjunction with our colleague last January was twelve months.

I am, with much esteem, &c., yours,
John Adams.

I have a letter from Mr. S. Adams and Dr. Gordon; both desire to be remembered to you. No news from either, only respecting our constitution, which it seems the convention have adopted without any essential alterations. They have published their result for the remarks and opinions of the people, after which they are to revise it. If two thirds of the people, in 1795, shall desire a convention to revise and alter, as experience shall find necessary, it is to be done. Massachusetts very intent on filling up their quota of the continental army.

M. Genet
Genet, M.
26 Mai, 1780
John Adams
Adams, John

M. GENET TO JOHN ADAMS.

M. Genet renouvelle ses hommages à M. Adams. La lettre ci-incluse est traduite;1 mais il reste à entendre deux ou trois mots qu’il a été impossible de lire. M. Adams est supplié de les écrire de nouveau, pour que cet excellent morceau ne reste pas incomplet.

M. Genet
Genet, M.
31 Mai, 1780
John Adams
Adams, John

M. GENET TO JOHN ADAMS.

M. Genet renouvelle tous ses hommages à M. Adams, et lui fait ses remercimens de l’excellent morceau qu’il vient de lui envoyer.2 Il ne doute point que le ministre ne désire qu’il soit Edition: current; Page: [180] imprimé dans le Mercure. Et M. Adams peut être certain de n’être point nommé.

John Adams
Adams, John
2 June, 1780
Paris

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS

Sir,

When a minister of an ancient nation, which has been renowned for its wisdom and virtue as well as power rises in a popular assembly, which is the most conspicuous theatre in Europe, and declares as it were in the face of all the world, and with an air of reflection, of deliberation, and of solemnity, that such and such are his own opinions concerning the truth of facts and the probability of future events, one cannot call in question his good faith, although we may know his information to be false and his judgment erroneous.

Lord George Germaine, in the debate in the house of commons on the 6th of May, declared that “he flattered himself the completion of the chief wish of his heart, peace with America, on what he thought good and honorable terms for Great Britain, was not far off. He verily believed, and his belief was not merely speculative, but founded on recent information, that the moment of conciliation was near. His Lordship described the misery which the Americans felt at this time, and stated that the greatest majority of the people there were ready and desirous to return to their allegiance, but that they were prevented by the tyranny of those who had got the power of government into their own hands. He did not believe the congress would ever treat for peace; but, from the condition of affairs in America, from the depreciation of their paper currency, from the poverty and distress of the country, from the great debt it groaned under, from the dissatisfaction which all ranks of people expressed at the alliance with France, from the little benefit America had derived from that alliance; from all these considerations he did believe that the people of America and the assemblies of America would soon come to terms.”

There may be some ambiguity in the phrase, “good and honorable terms for Great Britain;” but there can be no reasonable doubt that his Lordship meant either to return to their Edition: current; Page: [181] allegiance to Great Britain, or at least to make a peace with her, separate from France. Whether the Americans ever will agree to such terms or not, being a question concerning a future event, cannot be decided by witnesses, nor any other way, but by probable arguments. There is one argument which his Lordship does not appear to have considered. It is of some weight. It is this,—that in order to return to their allegiance to the King of England, or make a peace with him, separate from France, they must involve themselves in a certain war with France and Spain, at least, and indeed, according to present appearances, with Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, and Portugal; for every one of these powers appears to be as decided against the claims, pretensions, and usurpations of Great Britain upon the seas, as France and Spain are. There is not an American merchant, yeoman, tradesman, or seaman but knows this, or will know it very soon. Americans must, therefore, be destitute of that common share of reason which God has given to men, to exchange the friendship of all the world for their enmity, merely for the sake of returning to a connection with Great Britain which could not protect them, and which they have the best reasons to dread as the greatest evil that could befall them, from the unheard of tyrannies and cruelties they have already experienced from her. His Lordship is desired to consider this, and to ask himself, if he was an American, whether he would wish to run under the broken fragments of an empire that is dashed in pieces, like a china vase, and commence a fresh war against a combination of all the nations of the world who now discover a degree of esteem and regard for America.

If the Americans are as miserable as his Lordship represents them, will they be likely to increase that misery tenfold and make it perpetual, by espousing the cause of a ruined empire and going to war with half a dozen that are not ruined?

If we believe the testimonies of witnesses who come from all parts of America, we shall be convinced that his Lordship deceives himself. Every man from that country who knows the principles and opinions of the people, declares that they are, with a unanimity that is unexampled in any other revolution, firmly determined to maintain their sovereignty and their alliances, and that there is nobody there who utters a wish of Edition: current; Page: [182] returning to the government of Great Britain, or even of making a separate peace.

But if his Lordship was a candid inquirer after truth, and had a mind sufficiently enlightened to discover the means that are in the power of all men of obtaining it, he might have seen his error. There are certain marks by which the opinions, principles, inclinations, and wishes of a people may be discovered with infallible certainty, without recurring to witnesses or to far-fetched arguments.

The press, the towns, the juries, and the assemblies are four sources, from whence an unerring demonstration of the true sentiments of the people of America may be drawn. There is not in any nation of the world so unlimited a freedom of the press as is now established in every State of America, both by law and practice. Every man in Europe who reads their newspapers must see it. There is nothing that the people dislike that they do not attack. They attack officers of every rank in the militia and in the army; they attack judges, governors, and magistrates of every denomination; they attack assemblies and councils, members of congress, and congress itself, whenever they dislike their conduct. But I appeal to every newspaper upon the continent, whether one paragraph, one wish or hint of returning to the government of Great Britain, or of making a separate peace, has ever appeared.

The towns in many parts of America are small districts of territory, on an average perhaps six miles square. By the ancient laws of the country, which are still in force, any seven inhabitants of one of these towns have a right to demand of the magistrates a public assembly of all. There are necessarily several of these town meetings every year, and generally a great number of them. In these assemblies, every man, high and low, every yeoman, tradesman, and even day-laborer, as well as every gentleman and public magistrate, has a right to vote, and to speak his sentiments upon public affairs, to propose measures, to instruct the representatives in the legislature, &c. This right was constantly and frequently used under the former government, and is now much more frequently used under the new. The world has seen some hundreds of sets of instructions to representatives under the former government, wherein they enjoined an open opposition to judges, Edition: current; Page: [183] governors, acts of parliament, king, lords, and commons of Great Britain. What is there now to prevent them from opposing congress? Nothing. Has a single vote of any one of these towns been read, or one speech heard, proposing or uttering a wish to return to the government of Great Britain? Not one. Is not this a demonstration of the sentiments of the people?

Juries in America were formerly another organ, by which the sentiments of the people were conveyed to the public. Both grand juries and petit juries have expressed themselves in language sufficiently bold and free against acts of parliament and the conduct of Great Britain. But has any one ever uttered a word against congress or the assemblies or the judges under their new governments? or a wish to return to the obedience of England? Not one.

But it is said the paper money embarrasses congress. What then? Does this tend to make them dissolve their union? to violate their alliances? Would the paper money embarrass congress less, if they had a war to maintain against France and Spain, than it does now? Would not the embarrassment be much greater? Does the paper money prevent the increase and the population of the States? No. Does the war prevent it? No. Both the population and the property of the States have increased every year since this war began. And all the efforts of Great Britain cannot prevent it. On the contrary, have the wealth and population of Great Britain increased? Has her commerce increased? Has the political weight of the nation in the scales of Europe increased? Let a melancholy Briton tell.

His Lordship talks about the misery of the people in America. Let him look at home, and then say where is misery! where the hideous prospect of an internal civil war is added to a war with all the world. The truth is, that agriculture and manufactures, not of luxuries, but of necessaries, have been so much increased by this war, that it is much to be doubted whether they ever fed or clothed themselves more easily or more comfortably. But, besides this, the immense depredations they have made upon the British trade have introduced vast quantities of British merchandises of every sort. And, in spite of all the exertions of the British fleet, their trade is opening Edition: current; Page: [184] and extending with various countries every year, and Britain herself is forced to aid it, and will be more and more; a recent proof of which is the permission to import American tobacco into the kingdom from any part of the world, in neutral bottoms.

The great debt is also mentioned. Do they pay an interest for this debt? Is every necessary and convenience of life taxed to perpetuity to pay this interest? Is the whole equal in proportion to their abilities to the debt of England? Would the debt be rendered less by joining Great Britain against France and Spain? Would the war against France and Spain be shorter, less expensive, or less bloody than the war against England? By returning to England, would not their debt be ten times more burdensome? This debt is as nothing to America, once give her peace. Let the Americans trade freely with one another and with all other nations, and this debt would be but a feather. Let them come under Great Britain again, and have the communication between one colony and another obstructed as heretofore, and their trade confined to Great Britain as heretofore, and this debt would be a heavier millstone about their necks than that of England is about theirs.

A general repugnance to the alliance with France is mentioned. A greater mistake was never made. On the contrary, every step of congress, every proceeding of every assembly upon the continent, every prayer that is made in the pulpit, and every speculation in the newspapers, demonstrates the high sense they have of the importance of this alliance. It is said that this alliance has been of little utility. Has it not employed the British army? has it not cut out work enough for the British navy? has it not wasted for England her annual twenty millions? has it not prevented these from being employed against America? has it not given scope to American privateers? has it not protected the American trade? has it not hurt that of Great Britain? has it not engaged Russia, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, and Portugal, at least to a neutrality? at least has it not contributed much to these vast advantages to America? has it not taken away from Great Britain the dominion of the sea so far as to allow liberty of navigation to others? It is true the alliance might have been of more utility to all the allies with the same expense, if France and Spain Edition: current; Page: [185] had sooner adopted the policy of sending more of their forces to America. But they are now so well convinced of it, that unless miracles are wrought to prevent it, America and England, too, will soon see more of the efforts of this alliance. Let Britain tremble at the consequences of her own folly and her own crime.

His Lordship says that the people would return to their allegiance if they were not restrained by the tyranny of those who have got the powers of government. These are the assemblies, senates, governors, and congress. Now what power have any of these, but what the people please to allow them? By what engine is this tyranny exercised? Is it by the militia? In order to judge of this, let us consider the constitution of the militia. The militia is, in fact, the whole people; for, by the laws of every State, every man from sixteen to sixty years of age belongs to the militia, is obliged to be armed, to train and to march upon occasion, or find a substitute. The officers are chosen by the men, except the general officers, who are appointed by the assemblies. It is this very militia which forms the body of voters, who annually choose the members of assembly and the senators and governors. Is it possible these men should tyrannize over men upon whom they are so entirely dependent? As well might it be reproached to his Lordship and his colleagues in administration, that they tyrannized over their royal master, who can displace them at his pleasure. The assemblies thus annually chosen by the people or militia, annually choose the delegates in congress, and have power to recall them at pleasure. Will the militia then obey either assemblies or congress in the execution of tyrannical orders or any orders that are not generally agreeable to them? The thing speaks for itself. Is it the continental army, then, that is the instrument of their own servitude and that of their country? Every officer holds his commission at the pleasure of congress. But his Lordship and his colleagues often represent the continental army as so small and feeble as to be unable to make head against the British troops, and it is true that they are constantly employed in that service, and it is true that they are nothing in comparison with the militia. What would become of them, then, if the militia or any considerable number of them were to join the British troops?

Edition: current; Page: [186]

There has never been any part of the continental army, in more than three or four of the thirteen States at a time, watching the motions of the British army and confining them to the protection of their men-of-war. What has there been, then, in the remaining nine or ten States for an instrument of tyranny? This is too ridiculous to need many words.

His Lordship concludes with a distinction, if possible, less grounded than his assertions. He says that congress will never treat, but that the people and the assemblies will. Where does his Lordship find the ground of his difference between the congress and the assemblies? Are not the members of congress made of the same clay? Are they not themselves members of the assemblies? Are they not the creatures of the assemblies? Are they not annually created? Are they not dependent every moment upon the assemblies for their existence? Have not the assemblies a right to recall them when they please, and appoint others by law and the constitution? Have not the assemblies a right to instruct them how to act? If they do not obey these instructions, cannot the assemblies displace them and appoint others who will be more obedient? If the assemblies desired a reconciliation with England, could not they appoint a congress who desired it too? If the people desired it, could not they appoint assemblies who would soon make a congress suitable for their purpose? But I have been too long; his Lordship betrays such misinformation of facts, such an inattention to those obvious marks of the feelings of a people, as are infallible indications of their designs, and such a want of knowledge of the laws and constitution of the United States, as excite astonishment in an impartial examiner, and a real commiseration for the unhappy nation who are devoted to destruction from his errors and delusions.1

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [187]
John Adams
Adams, John
16 June, 1780
Paris
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count

TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Sir,

I have just received a letter from Nantes, brought in a ship from New London. I inclose your Excellency a newspaper inclosed in it, and an extract of the letter, which is from a gentleman who is a member of the assembly and one of the judges at Boston. This is all the news I have. I hope your Excellency has more by the same vessel.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Richard Cranch
Cranch, Richard
26 April, 1780
Boston
John Adams
Adams, John

(Extract Inclosed)
RICHARD CRANCH TO JOHN ADAMS.

You will see by the papers the congress has recommended a total revolution in the paper currency. The general court is now sitting here. We have adopted the spirit of the recommendation, and a bill for that purpose has passed both houses, but is not yet enacted. By this act, a tax of seventy-two thousand pounds per annum for seven years, including the present year, is to be raised in hard money or produce at a certain rate; which sum is supposed sufficient to redeem our quota of the continental currency at its present depreciated value, estimated at forty paper dollars for one hard one. This tax is to be paid in silver, at six shillings and eight pence per ounce, or gold in proportion; or else in wheat, rye, corn, merchantable fish, barrelled pork and beef, &c. &c., which are to be delivered into the State stores, free of charge, at a certain stipulated price, such as the merchants would be willing to pay for them in silver and gold. This is the fund on which the new bills proposed by congress for this State are to be founded, and will, at the end of seven years, be sufficient to redeem them with gold and silver, and pay the intervening interest.

Edition: current; Page: [188]
John Adams
Adams, John
20 June, 1780
Paris
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count

TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Sir,

Last evening I received the letter, an extract of which I have the honor to inclose. It is from Mr. Gerry, a member of congress, who has been a member of their treasury board from the beginning of the year 1776.

It is much to be regretted that the congress did not publish their resolution to pay off the loan-office certificates, according to the value of money at the time of their being respectively issued, with their resolutions of the 18th of March; because this I think would have prevented the alarm that has been spread in Europe. It will be found that almost all the interest that European merchants or others have in our funds lies in these certificates, and that almost all the paper bills now in possession of their factors in America have been received within a few months, immediately before the 18th of March; and consequently received at a depreciation of forty for one at least, perhaps at a much greater.

Although some Europeans may have considerable sums in loan-office certificates, yet I have reason to believe that the whole will be found much less than is imagined. They have realized their property generally as they went along. Some may have purchased land, others have purchased bills of exchange, others have purchased the produce of the country, which they have exported to St. Eustatia, to the French West India Islands, and to Europe.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Elbridge Gerry
Gerry, Elbridge
5 May, 1780
Philadelphia
John Adams
Adams, John

(Extract Inclosed.)
ELBRIDGE GERRY TO JOHN ADAMS.

The resolutions of congress for calling in and cancelling the two hundred millions of dollars emitted by them, have in general been well received. The depreciation is stopped, and specie, which before the passing of the resolves, was sold for upwards of seventy for one, is now current at sixty, and has Edition: current; Page: [189] been lately at fifty-five. The advantage of this plan will be great to the landholder, inasmuch as the national debt, including certificates and foreign demands, does not now much exceed five millions sterling, which is but a trifling sum compared with the two hundred millions of pounds sterling due from Great Britain.

Another benefit resulting from it is a supply of five millions of dollars of the new emission, every dollar of which is equal to forty dollars of the old emission. Indeed, this must be called in before that can be realized; nevertheless, there is a greater demand among all ranks for continental money than there has been since the commencement of the war, and specie is no longer hoarded by the disaffected or timid. So much for the value and stability of the medium.

With respect to our resources, congress are at present much in want of money, and it is a happy circumstance, for their economy is in proportion to their wants. The demands on the treasury are generally answered by warrants on the several States, which are careful, by some means or other, to discharge the drafts. The taxes are indeed very heavy, but the collection goes on, and, I doubt not that the army will be well fed and paid. Military stores and clothing must, however, be procured on credit in Europe, as well as a considerable loan to serve as a fund for drawing on in case of necessity. Trade and privateering are brisk, and there is a plenty of goods of every kind excepting military, but no money to purchase them. This is easily accounted for, since the whole sum in circulation, as congress have fixed it, is only five million dollars. Our privateers and commerce have, nevertheless, lately suffered much by the cruisers of the enemy, who have the command of the sea-coast.

It is much to be wished that the Court of France would order a squadron superior to the enemy, to be stationed in some part of the United States, as the best and only means of putting a speedy end to the war. It is almost impossible to conceive the havoc that our privateers made of the enemy’s cruisers and transports, during the time that the Count d’Estaing was at Rhode Island and Charleston. But our losses at present nearly equal our captures. Indeed, that worthy officer, aware of those and other advantages, ordered the Count de Grasse to be stationed at the Chesapeake, but his plan was Edition: current; Page: [190] defeated by the tempestuousness of the weather. Had the latter arrived with his squadron, Charleston could not have been besieged, and three or four of our frigates, which are now in Ashley’s River, and will probably be destroyed, would have been employed in intercepting the enemy’s transports.

I forgot to mention a resolution of congress to pay off the continental certificates, according to the value of money at the time of their being respectively issued. This is but justice, and will undoubtedly be satisfactory to foreigners. Bills of exchange are now at forty-five for one, and will be higher, in consequence of the great risk of sending vessels from the Eastern States to the Southern for produce.

Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count
21 June, 1780
Versailles
John Adams
Adams, John

COUNT DE VERGENNES TO JOHN ADAMS.
(Translation.1)

Sir,

I have received the letter which you did me the honor to write me on the 16th of this month, and also the extract of the letter addressed to you from Boston, dated the 26th of April.

According to the latter the assembly of Massachusetts has determined to adopt the resolution of congress, fixing the value of the paper money at forty for one in specie. In reading that resolution, I had convinced myself that it had no other object than that of restoring the value of the paper money by lessening its quantity, and that, in consequence of that operation, the paper not brought in would resume its currency according as circumstances should give it a greater or less degree of credit. What would have confirmed me in this opinion, was the liberty given to the possessors of the paper money to carry it to the treasury of their State, or to keep it in their own possession. But, from Edition: current; Page: [191] the information I have since received, and the very letter which you, sir, have been pleased to communicate to me, I have reason to believe that the intention of congress is to maintain the paper money invariably at the exchange of forty for one, and to redeem on that footing all the paper which it has thrown into circulation, in order to reduce insensibly the two hundred millions of dollars, for which it finds itself indebted, to about five millions.

I shall take great care, sir, not to criticize this operation in itself, because I have no right to analyze or comment upon the internal arrangements which congress may consider just and useful; moreover, I readily agree that there may be some situations critical enough to force even the best regulated and longest established governments to adopt extraordinary measures to repair their finances, and to put themselves in a condition to answer the public expenses; and this I am persuaded has been the principal reason that has induced congress to depreciate the money which itself had created.

But while I admit, sir, that that assembly could have recourse to the expedient above-mentioned, in order to lighten the load of its debt, I am far from agreeing that it is just and agreeable to the ordinary course of things to extend the effect to strangers as well as to citizens of the United States. On the contrary, I think it should have been confined to Americans alone, and that an exception should have been made in favor of those same strangers, or, at least, that some means should have been devised to indemnify these for the losses they may suffer by the general law.

In order to make you sensible of this truth, I will not tell you, sir, that it is for the Americans alone to support the expense which may be caused by the defence of their liberty, and that they ought to consider the depreciation of their paper money purely as a tax which ought to be concentrated upon themselves, as the paper money was at first established only to relieve them from the necessity of paying one. I shall content myself to remark to you that the French, if they should be obliged to submit to the reduction proposed by congress, would find themselves victims of the zeal, and I may say of the rashness, with which they have exposed themselves in furnishing the Americans with arms, ammunition, and clothing; in a word, with all things of the first necessity, of which the Edition: current; Page: [192] Americans stood in the most urgent need. You will agree with me, sir, that this is not the fate which the subjects of the King ought to expect; and that very far from dreading, after escaping the dangers of the sea and the vigilance of the English, to see themselves plundered in America, they might, on the contrary, have counted on the thanks of congress and of the whole American people, and have believed their property as secure and as sacred in America as in France itself. It was with this persuasion, and in a reliance on the public faith, that they received paper money in exchange for their merchandise, and kept that paper with a view to employ it in new speculations of commerce. The unexpected reduction of this same paper overturns their calculations, at the same time that it ruins their fortune. I ask you, sir, if these consequences induce you to believe that this operation of congress is fitting to advance the credit of the United States, to inspire confidence in their promises, to invite the European nations to share in the same risks to which the subjects of his Majesty have exposed themselves?

These, sir, are the principal reflections occasioned by the resolution of congress of the 18th of March. I make it a duty to communicate them to you with entire confidence, because you are too enlightened not to feel their force and justice, and too much attached to your country not to use all your endeavors to engage it to retrace its steps, and do justice to the subjects of the King.

I shall not conceal from you that the Chevalier de la Luzerne has already received orders to make the strongest representations on the subject in question, and that the King is firmly persuaded that the United States will be eager to give to him on this occasion a mark of their attachment, by granting to his subjects the just satisfaction which they solicit, and which they expect from the wisdom and justice of the United States.

I have the honor to be, &c.
De Vergennes.
Edition: current; Page: [193]
John Adams
Adams, John
22 June, 1780
Paris
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count

TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Sir,

I received this day the letter which your Excellency did me the honor to write me on the 21st of this month.

I thank your Excellency for the confidence which induced you to communicate this letter to me, and the continuance of which I shall ever study to deserve.

When your Excellency says that his Majesty’s minister at congress has already received orders to make representations against the resolutions of congress of the 18th of March, as far as they effect his subjects, I am at a loss to know with certainty whether your Excellency means only that such orders have lately passed and are sent off to go to America, or whether you mean that such orders were sent so long ago as to have reached the hand of the Chevalier de la Luzerne.

If the latter is your Excellency’s meaning, there is no remedy; if the former, I would submit it to your Excellency’s consideration, whether those orders may not be stopped and delayed a little time, until his Excellency Mr. Franklin may have opportunity to make his representations to his Majesty’s ministers, to the end that, if it should appear that those orders were issued in consequence of misinformation, they may be revoked; otherwise sent on.

I will do myself the honor to write fully to your Excellency upon this subject, without loss of time; and although it is a subject on which I pretend not to an accurate knowledge in the detail, yet I flatter myself I am so far master of the principles as to demonstrate that the plan of congress is not only wise but just.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
22 June, 1780
Paris
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count

TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Sir,

I this day acknowledged the receipt of the letter which you did me the honor to write to me on the 21st.

I have the honor to agree with your Excellency in opinion, that it is the intention of congress to redeem all their paper bills Edition: current; Page: [194] which are extant, at an exchange of forty for one, by which means the two hundred millions of dollars which are out will be reduced to about five millions.

I apprehend, with your Excellency, that it was necessary for the congress to put themselves in a condition to defray the public expenses. They found their currency so depreciated and so rapidly depreciating, that a further emission sufficient to discharge the public expenses another year, would have probably depreciated it to two hundred for one; perhaps, would have so totally discredited it, that nobody would have taken it at any rate. It was absolutely necessary, then, to stop emitting. Yet it was absolutely necessary to have an army to save their cities from the fire and their citizens from the sword. That army must be fed, clothed, paid, and armed, and other expenses must be defrayed. It had become necessary, therefore, at this time to call in their paper; for there is no nation that is able to carry on war by the taxes which can be raised within the year. But I am far from thinking that this necessity was the cause of their calling it in at a depreciated value, because I am well convinced that they would have called it in at a depreciated value, if the British fleet and army had been withdrawn from the United States, and a general peace had been concluded. My reason for this belief is, the evident injustice of calling it in at its nominal value, a silver dollar for a paper one. The public has its rights as well as individuals; and every individual has a share in the rights of the public. Justice is due to the body politic, as well as to the possessor of the bills; and to have paid off the bills at their nominal value would have wronged the body politic of thirty-nine dollars in every forty as really as if forty dollars had been paid for one at the first emission in 1775, when each paper dollar was worth and would fetch a silver one.

I beg leave to ask your Excellency, whether you judge that the congress ought to pay two hundred millions of silver dollars for the two hundred millions of paper dollars which are abroad? I presume your Excellency will not think that they ought; because I have never met with any man in America or in Europe that was of that opinion. All agree that congress ought to redeem it at a depreciated value. The only question, then, is, at what depreciation? Shall it be at seventy-five, forty, thirty, twenty, ten, or five for one? After it is once admitted Edition: current; Page: [195] that it ought to be redeemed at a less value than the nominal, the question arises, at what value? What rule? I answer, there is no other rule of justice than the current value, the value at which it generally passes from man to man. The congress have set it at forty for one; and they are the best judges of this, as they represent all parts of the continent where the paper circulates.

I think there can be little need of illustration; but two or three examples may make my meaning more obvious. A farmer has now four thousand dollars for a pair of oxen which he sells to a commissary to subsist the army. When the money was issued in 1775, he would have been glad to have taken one hundred. A laborer has now twenty dollars a day for his work; five years ago he would have been rejoiced to have received half a dollar. The same with the artisan, merchant, and all others but those who have fixed salaries or money at interest. Most of these persons would be willing to take hard money for their work and their produce at the rate they did six years ago. Where is the reason, then, that congress should pay them forty times as much as they take of their neighbors in private life?

The amount of ordinary commerce, external and internal, of a society, may be computed at a fixed sum. A certain sum of money is necessary to circulate among the society in order to carry on their business. This precise sum is discoverable by calculation and reducible to certainty. You may emit paper or any other currency for this purpose, until you reach this rule, and it will not depreciate. After you exceed this rule it will depreciate; and no power or act of legislation hitherto invented can prevent it. In the case of paper, if you go on emitting forever, the whole mass will be worth no more than that was which was emitted within the rule. When the paper, therefore, comes to be redeemed, this is the only rule of justice for the redemption of it. The congress have fixed five millions for this rule. Whether this is mathematically exact, I am not able to say; whether it is a million too little or too much, I know not. But they are the best judges; and by the accounts of the money being at seventy for one, and bills of exchange at fifty-five for one, it looks as if five millions was too high a sum rather than too small.

It will be said that the faith of society ought to be sacred, Edition: current; Page: [196] and that the congress have pledged the public faith for the redemption of the bills at the value on the face of them. I agree that the public faith ought to be sacred. But who is it that has violated this faith? Is it not every man who has demanded more paper money for his labor or his goods than they were worth in silver? The public faith, in the sense these words are here used, would require that congress should make up to every man who for five years past has paid more in paper money for any thing he has purchased than he could have had it for in silver. The public faith is no more pledged to the present possessor of the bills than it is to every man through whose hands they may have passed at a less than the nominal value. So that, according to this doctrine, congress would have two hundred millions of dollars to pay to the present possessors of the bills, and to make up to every man through whose hands they have passed the difference at which they passed between them and silver.

It should be considered that every man, whether native or foreigner, who receives or pays this money at a less value than the nominal value, breaks this faith. For the social compact being between the whole and every individual, and between every individual and the whole, every individual, native or foreigner, who uses this paper, is as much bound by the public faith to use it according to the tenor of its emission as the congress is. And congress have as good a right to reproach every individual who now demands more paper for his goods than silver with a breach of the public faith, as he has to reproach the public or their representatives.

I must beg your Excellency’s excuse for calling your attention a little longer to this head of public faith, because I cannot rest easy while my country is supposed to be guilty of a breach of their faith, and in a case where I am clear they have not been so, especially by your Excellency, whose good opinion they and I value so much. This public faith is in the nature of a mutual covenant, and he who would claim a benefit under it ought to be careful in first fulfilling his part of it. When congress issued their bills, declaring them in effect to be equal to silver, they unquestionably intended that they should be so considered and that they should be received accordingly. The people or individuals covenanted in effect to receive them at their nominal Edition: current; Page: [197] value; and congress, in such case, agreed on their part to redeem them at the same rate. This seems to be a fair and plain construction of this covenant or public faith; and none other I think can be made, that will not degenerate into an unconscionable contract, and so destroy itself.

Can it be supposed that congress ever intended that, if the time should come when the individual refused to accept and receive their bills at their nominal value, and demanded and actually received them at a less value, in that case, the individual should be entitled to demand and receive of the public for those very bills silver equal to their nominal value? The consideration is, in fact, made by the public at the very instant the individual receives the bills at a discount; and there is a tacit and implied agreement springing from the principles of natural justice or equity between the public and the individual, that as the latter has not given to the former a consideration equal to the nominal value of the bills, so in fact the public shall not be held to pay the nominal value in silver to the individual. Suppose it otherwise, and how will the matter stand? The public offers to an individual a bill whose nominal value is, for example, forty dollars, in lieu of forty silver dollars; the individual says, I esteem it of no more value than one silver dollar, and the public pays it to him at that value; yet he comes the next day, when the bill may be payable, and demands of the public forty silver dollars in exchange for it. And why? Because the bill purports on the face of it to be equal to forty silver dollars. The answer is equally obvious with the injustice of the demand. Upon the whole, as the depreciation crept in gradually, and was unavoidable, all reproaches of a breach of public faith ought to be laid aside; and the only proper inquiry now really is, what is the paper honestly worth? What will it fetch at market? And this is the only just rule of redemption.

It becomes me to express myself with deference, when I am obliged to differ in opinion from your Excellency; but this being a subject peculiar to America, no example entirely similar to it, that I know of, having been in Europe, I may be excused, therefore, in explaining my sentiments upon it.

I have the misfortune to differ from your Excellency so far as to think that no general distinction can be made between natives and foreigners. For, not to mention that this would Edition: current; Page: [198] open a door to numberless frauds, I think that foreigners when they come to trade with a nation make themselves temporary citizens, and tacitly consent to be bound by the same laws. And it will be found that foreigners have had quite as much to do in depreciating this money in proportion as natives, and that they have been in proportion much less sufferers by it. I might go further, and say that they have been in proportion greater gainers by it without suffering any considerable share of the loss.

The paper bills out of America are next to nothing. I have no reason to think that there are ten thousand dollars in all Europe; indeed, I do not know of one thousand. The agents in America of merchants in Europe have laid out their paper bills in lands, or in indigo, rice, tobacco, wheat, flour, &c.; in short, in the produce of the country. This produce they have shipped to Europe, sold to the King’s ships, and received bills of exchange, or shipped to the West India Islands, where they have procured cash or bills of exchange. The surplus they have put into the loan-offices from time to time, for loan-offices have been open all along, from 1776, I believe, to this time. Whenever any person lent paper bills to the public, and took loan-office certificates, he would have been glad to have taken silver in exchange for the bills at their then depreciated value. Why should he not be willing now? Those who lent paper when two paper dollars were worth one in silver will have one for two; those who lent when forty were worth one will have one for forty; and those who lent when paper was as good as silver will have dollar for dollar.

Your Excellency thinks it would be hard that those who have escaped the perils of the seas and of enemies should be spoiled by their friends. But congress have not spoiled any; they have only prevented themselves and the public from being spoiled. No agent of any European merchant, in making his calculations of profit and loss, ever estimated the depreciated bills at the nominal value; they all put a profit upon their goods sufficient to defray all expenses of insurance, freight, and every thing else, and had a great profit besides, receiving the bills at the current, not the nominal value.

It may not be amiss to state a few prices-current at Boston the last and the present year, in order to show the profits which have been made.

Edition: current; Page: [199]

Bohea tea, forty sous a pound at Lorient and Nantes, forty-five dollars. Salt, which costs very little in Europe, and used to be sold for a shilling a bushel, forty dollars a bushel, and in some of the other States two hundred dollars at times. Linens, which cost two livres a yard in France, forty dollars a yard. Broadcloths, a louis d’or a yard here, two hundred dollars a yard. Ironmongery of all sorts, one hundred and twenty for one. Millinery of all sorts, at an advance far exceeding. These were the prices at Boston. At Philadelphia and in all the other States they were much higher.

These prices, I think, must convince your Excellency that allowing one half or even two thirds of the vessels to be taken, there is room enough for a handsome profit, deducting all charges, and computing the value of bills at the rate of silver at the time.

There are two other sources from which foreigners have made great profits,—the difference between bills of exchange and silver. During the whole of our history, when a man could readily get twenty-five paper dollars for one in silver, he could not get more than twelve paper dollars for one in a bill of exchange. Nearly this proportion was observed all along, as I have been informed. The agent of a foreign merchant had only to sell his goods for paper, or buy paper with silver at twenty-five for one, and immediately go and buy bills at twelve for one. So that he doubled his money in a moment.

Another source was this,—the paper money was not alike depreciated in all places at the same time. It was forty for one at Philadelphia sometimes, when it was only twenty at Boston. The agent of a foreign merchant had only to sell his goods or send silver to Philadelphia and exchange it for paper, which he could lay out at Boston for twice what it cost him, and in this way again double his property.

This depreciating paper currency being, therefore, such a fruitful source for men of penetration to make large profits, it is not to be wondered that some have written alarming letters to their correspondents.

No man is more ready than I am to acknowledge the obligations we are under to France; but the flourishing state of her marine and commerce, and the decisive influence of her councils and negotiations in Europe, which all the world will allow to be owing in a great measure to the separation of America Edition: current; Page: [200] from her inveterate enemy, and to her new connections with the United States, show that the obligations are mutual. And no foreign merchant ought to expect to be treated in America better than her native merchants, who have hazarded their property through the same perils of the seas and of enemies.

In the late Province of the Massachusetts Bay, from the years 1745 to 1750, we had full experience of the operation of paper money. The Province engaged in expensive expeditions against Louisburg and Canada, which occasioned a too plentiful emission of paper money, in consequence of which it depreciated to seven and a half for one. In 1750, the British Parliament granted a sum of money to the Province to reimburse it for what it had expended more than its proportion in the general expense of the empire. This sum was brought over to Boston in silver and gold, and the legislature determined to redeem all their paper with it at the depreciated value. There was a similar alarm at first, and before the matter was understood, but after the people had time to think upon it, all were satisfied to receive silver at fifty shillings an ounce, although the face of the bills promised an ounce of silver for every six shillings and eight pence. At that time, the British merchants were more interested in our paper money, in proportion, than any Europeans now are; yet they did not charge the Province with a breach of faith, or stigmatize this as an act of bankruptcy. On the contrary, they were satisfied with it.

I beg leave to remind your Excellency, that at that time, the laws of Massachusetts were subject not only to the negative of the King’s governor, but to a revision by the King in council, and were there liable to be affirmed or annulled. And from the partial preference which your Excellency well knows was uniformly given to the interests of the subjects of the King within the realm, when they came in competition with those of the subjects of the Colonies, there is no reason to doubt that if that measure, when thoroughly considered, had been unjust in itself, the merchants in England would have taken an alarm, and procured the act to be disallowed by the King in council. Yet the merchants in England, who well understood their own interests, were quite silent upon this occasion, and the law was confirmed in the council; nor can it be supposed to have been confirmed there in a manner unnoticed. It had met with too much opposition among a certain set of interested speculators in the then Edition: current; Page: [201] Province, for that supposition to be made. And the case of the British merchants at that time differed in no respect from the present case of the French or other foreign merchants, except that the credits of the former were vastly greater, and they must have, consequently, been more deeply interested in that measure of government than the latter are in the present one. Their acquiescence in the measure, and the confirmation of that act, must have rested upon the full conviction of the British administration and of the merchants, of the justice of it.

Your Excellency will agree in the difficulty of making any distinction between the French merchant and the Spanish or Dutch merchant, by any general rule; for all these are interested in this business.

Your Excellency is pleased to ask, whether I think these proceedings of congress proper to give credit to the United States; to inspire confidence in their promises, and to invite the European nations to partake of the same risks to which the subjects of his Majesty have exposed themselves?

I have the honor to answer your Excellency, directly and candidly, that I do think them proper for these ends, and I do further think them to be the only measures that ever could acquire credit and confidence to the United States. I know of no other just foundation of confidence in men or bodies of men than their understanding and integrity; and congress have manifested to all the world by this plan, that they understand the nature of their paper currency; that its fluctuation has been the grand obstacle to their credit; and that it was necessary to draw it to a conclusion, in order to introduce a more steady standard of commerce; that, to this end, the repeal of their laws which made the paper a tender, and giving a free circulation to silver and gold, were necessary. They have further manifested by these resolutions that they are fully possessed of the only principle there is in the nature of things for doing justice in this business to the public and to individuals, to natives and foreigners; and that they are sufficiently possessed of the confidence of the people, and there is sufficient vigor in their government, to carry it into execution.

Notwithstanding all, if any European merchant can show any good reason for excepting his particular case from the general rule, upon a representation of it to congress, I have no doubt they will do him justice.

Edition: current; Page: [202]

Moreover, if his Excellency, the Chevalier de la Luzerne, can show that the sum of five millions of dollars is not the real worth of all the paper money that is abroad, and that ten millions of dollars is the true sum, I doubt not congress would alter their rule, and redeem it at twenty for one. But I doubt very much whether this can be shown. But I cannot see that any distinction could be made between French merchants and those of other nations, but what would be very invidious and founded upon no principle. I cannot see that any distinction can be made between natives and foreigners, but what would have a most unhappy effect upon the minds of the people in America, and be a partiality quite unwarrantable; and, therefore, your Excellency will see that it is impossible for me to take any steps to persuade congress to retract, because it would be acting in direct repugnance to the clearest dictates of my understanding and judgment, of what is right and fit.

I cannot excuse myself from adding, that most of the arms, ammunition, and clothing for the army have been contracted for here by the ministers of congress, and paid for, or agreed to be paid for, here in silver and gold. Very little of these articles has been shipped by private adventurers. They have much more commonly shipped articles of luxury, of which the country did not stand in need, and upon which they must have made vast profits.

Thus have I communicated to your Excellency my sentiments, with that freedom which becomes a citizen of the United States, intrusted by the public with some of its interests. I entreat your Excellency to consider them as springing from no other motive than a strong attachment to the union of the States, and a desire to prevent all unnecessary causes of parties and disputes; and from a desire, not only to preserve the alliance in all its vigor, but to prevent every thing which may unnecessarily oppose itself to the affection and confidence between the two nations, which I wish to see increased every day, as every day convinces me more and more of the necessity that France and America will be under of cherishing their mutual connections.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.1
Edition: current; Page: [203]
John Adams
Adams, John
23 June, 1780
Paris
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin

TO BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.

Sir,

I have this day the honor of a letter from his Excellency, the Count de Vergennes, on the subject of the resolutions of congress of the 18th of March, concerning the paper bills, in which his Excellency informs me that the Chevalier de la Luzerne has orders to make the strongest representations upon the subject. I am not certain whether his Excellency means that such orders were sent so long ago as to have reached the hand of the minister at congress, or whether they have been lately expedited. If the latter, I submit to your Excellency, whether it would not be expedient to request that those orders may be stopped, until proper representations can be made at Court, to the end that if it can be made to appear, as I firmly believe that it may, that those orders were given upon misinformation, they may be revoked, otherwise sent on.

Your Excellency will excuse this, because it appears to me a matter of very great importance. The affair of our paper is sufficiently dangerous and critical, and if a representation from his Majesty should be made, advantages will not fail to be taken of it by the tories and by interested and disappointed speculators, who may spread an alarm among many uninformed people, so as to endanger the public peace.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
24 June, 1780
Thomas Digges
Digges, Thomas

TO THOMAS DIGGES.

Yours of the 26th and 29th ultimo I have received, and another with the Court Gazette with the capitulation of Charleston; I have also received the box of books, and all the bundles of newspapers and pamphlets. I thank you most sincerely for your care. I beg your pardon, sir, for sending you half of the report of the committee;1 I thought it entire when I sent it; it Edition: current; Page: [204] is now printed in the papers, so that there is no necessity of sending another if I had it, but I have none left.

The pamphlets have been a feast to me. But what can be said of those written by—? Such a mass of falsehood! The Cool Thoughts on the Consequences of American Independence,1 should have been entitled, “A Demonstration that it is the Interest and Duty of America to support her Independence at all Events: and that it is equally the Interest and Duty of all the rest of Europe to support her in it.” It seems as if Providence intended to give success enough to lead on the English nation to their final and total destruction. I am sorry for it; I wish it not; but it must come, if they pursue this war much further. The conquest of Charleston will only arouse America to double exertion and fourfold indignation. The English nation knows not the people they have to do with, and that has been the fatal cause of their misconduct from first to last. Governor Pownall knows, although he dares not say in parliament what he knows. It is the decree of the destinies that the southern parts of the continent should be brought to as much experience in war as the northern. This will remove the only cause of jealousy, and strengthen the Union beyond a possibility of breaking it. It will make them taste equally, too, the bitter cup of British inhumanity. In short, the English, so far from gaining any thing by the acquisition of Charleston, will only double their expenses; their army will moulder away, and they will be in danger of losing both that and New York. Those who imagine that this will discourage anybody in America, have no idea of that people. The blubbering babies in Europe, who give up all for lost, upon every disaster, are no Americans. The last are men.

Yours, with great regard,
F. R. S.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
John Adams
Adams, John

QUERIES BY B. FRANKLIN.

Mr. Adams, after having perused the inclosed papers, is desired to give his opinions on the following questions.

1st. Whether Captain Landais, accused as he is of capital Edition: current; Page: [205] crimes, by his senior and late commanding officer, after having apparently relinquished the command of the Alliance frigate, by withdrawing his effects from the same, after having asked and received money by order of the minister plenipotentiary, in order to transport himself to America, and take his trial there upon the said accusation, and after having for that purpose, in writing, requested a passage to be procured for him, was entitled, at his pleasure, to retake the command of the Alliance (contrary to the positive order of the minister plenipotentiary, whose orders the said Landais was by the navy board instructed to obey,) and to dispossess his successor, the oldest naval officer of the United States in Europe, who had commanded the said frigate near eight months, and brought her to the port where she now is?

2d. Whether the conduct of Captain Landais, at Lorient, in exciting the officers and seamen of the Alliance to deny the authority of Captain Jones, under whose command they had voluntarily come, and remained there, and encouraging the said seamen to make unlawful demands on the minister plenipotentiary for the United States, and to enter into a mutinous combination, not to put to sea with the Alliance till said demands should be complied with, thereby retarding the departure of the said frigate, and of the public stores on board, be not highly culpable?

3d. Whether, after Captain Landais’s late conduct, and the manner in which he has retaken the command of the frigate Alliance, it be consistent with good order, prudence, and the public service, to permit him to retain the direction of her, and of the public stores intended to be sent with her, accused as he is of capital crimes, by his late commodore, and for which, if he arrives in America, he must of course be tried?

John Adams
Adams, John
26 June, 1780
Paris
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin

ANSWER TO THE QUERIES.

I have read over all the papers in the bundle left with me, numbered to thirty-seven. I have also read the three queries stated to me.

These queries I apprehend can legally be answered only by Edition: current; Page: [206] congress, or a court-martial; and, therefore, it would be improper in me to give any answer to them, because the papers will appear before congress or a court-martial, who can judge of them better than I. They will also hear Captain Landais in his defence, which I cannot do. My opinion, therefore, would have no weight either before the one or the other tribunal; or, supposing it to be admitted to be read, and to have any weight, it ought not to be given, because I cannot be legally either a witness or a judge.

I cannot, however, think that the instructions of the navy board to Captain Landais to obey the orders of the minister plenipotentiary, contain authority to remove him, without his consent, from the command of a ship committed to him by congress, because the navy board themselves had not, as I apprehend, such authority.

Since those instructions were given, as I was informed at Boston, congress has given to the navy board power, upon any misbehavior of an officer, to suspend him, stating to congress at the same time a regular charge against him. But I do not find among these papers such authority given to any body in Europe, nor do I find that any regular charge against Captain Landais has been stated to congress.

There has seldom, if ever, been in France a sufficient number of officers at a time to constitute a court-martial, and our code of admiralty laws is so inadequate to the government of frigates for any length of time in Europe, that it is presumed congress will in future either omit to put frigates under any direction in Europe, or make some additions to the laws of the admiralty adapted to such cases. For there is an end of all order, discipline, and decency, when disputes arise, and there is no tribunal to decide them, and when crimes are committed, or alleged, and there is no authority to try or to punish them.

I have not observed among these papers any clear evidence of Captain Landais’s consent to leave the command of the ship; and, therefore, upon the whole, rather than bring the present dispute about the Alliance to any critical and dangerous decision here, where the law is so much at loose, and there can be no legal tribunal to decide, I should think your Excellency would be most likely to be justified in pursuing the mildest measures, by transmitting all the papers and evidence Edition: current; Page: [207] to congress, or the navy board, for a trial by a court-martial, and ordering the commanding officer of the Alliance, with the stores and convoy, as soon as possible to America.

I give this opinion to your Excellency, to make what use of it you think proper.

John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
26 June, 1780
Paris

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

The resolutions of congress of the 18th of March, respecting the paper bills, appeared first in Europe, as recited in the act of the assembly of Pennsylvania; they were next published in the English newspapers, as taken from a Boston paper, published by the council; at last the resolutions appeared in the journals of congress.

A great clamor was raised and spread, that the United States had violated their faith, and had declared themselves bankrupts, unable to pay more than two and a half per cent. A gentleman soon after called on me, and told me that the Court was alarmed, and that the Count de Vergennes would be glad to consult me upon the subject. I then received a letter from Boston, acquainting me that the legislature of Massachusetts had adopted the plan. Of this letter I sent an extract immediately to the Count, and waited on him at Versailles, where I had the honor of a long conversation with his Excellency on the subject, and endeavored to convince him of the rectitude of the measure. He desired me to converse with his first secretary, which I did particularly.

His Excellency told me he had written to me on the subject, and that I should receive the letter the next day. On my return from Versailles I received a letter from Mr. Gerry, informing me of the resolutions to pay the loan-office certificates at the value of money at the time when they were issued. I had before told the Count that I was persuaded this was a part of the plan. I sent an extract of this letter also to the Count, without loss of time. The next day I received the letter from his Excellency, a copy of which and of my answer are inclosed. Yesterday, Mr. Trumbull, of Connecticut, favored me with the Edition: current; Page: [208] law of that State respecting this matter, and an estimate of the gradual progress of depreciation. These papers I forthwith transmitted to his Excellency. I am determined to give my sentiments to his Majesty’s ministers whenever they shall see cause to ask them, although it is not within my department, until I shall be forbidden by congress; and to this end I shall go to Court often enough to give them an opportunity to ask them if they wish to know them.

The clamor that has been raised has been so industriously spread, that I cannot but suspect that the motive at bottom has either been a wish to have an opportunity of continuing the profitable speculations which artful men are able to make in a depreciating currency, or else by spreading a diffidence in American credit, to discourage many from engaging in American trade, that the profits of it may still continue to be confined to a few.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
29 June, 1780
Paris

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

The disputes about the Alliance have been so critical and disagreeable, that congress will pardon me for making a few observations upon our arrangements here.

I apprehend that many of the disputes, delays, and other inconveniences, that have attended our affairs in this kingdom, have arisen from blending the offices of political minister, board of admiralty, chamber of commerce, and commercial agent together. The business of the minister is to negotiate with the Court, to propose and consult upon plans for the conduct of the war, to collect and transmit intelligence from the other parts of Europe, especially concerning the designs and the forces of the enemy. This is business enough for the wisest and most laborious man the United States have in their service, aided by an active, intelligent, and industrious secretary. But, added to all this, our ministers at the Court of Versailles have ever been overloaded with commercial and admiralty business, complicated and perplexed in its nature, and endless in its details. But for this, I am persuaded much more might have been done Edition: current; Page: [209] in the conduct of the war, and the United States might have had more effectual assistance, and France and Spain, too, fewer misfortunes to bewail.

I would, therefore, beg leave to propose to appoint a consul without loss of time to reside at Nantes, and to him consign all vessels from the United States. I think it should be an American, some merchant of known character, abilities, and industry, who would consent to serve his country for moderate emoluments. Such persons are to be found in great numbers in the United States. There are many applications from French gentlemen. But I think that from a want of knowledge of our language, our laws, customs, and even the humors of our people, for even these must be considered, they never would be able to give satisfaction or to do justice. Besides, if it is an honor, a profit, or only an opportunity to travel and see the world for improvement, I think the native Americans have a right to expect it; and further, that the public have a right to expect that whatever advantages are honestly to be made in this way should return sometime or other to America, together with the knowledge and experience gained at the same time.

These consuls, as well as the foreign ministers, should all be instructed to transmit to congress written accounts of the civil and military constitutions of the places where they are, as well as all the advantages for commerce with the whole world, especially with the United States. These letters preserved will be a repository of political and commercial knowledge, that in future times may be a rich treasure to the United States. To these consuls the commercial concerns of the public should be committed and the vessels of war. It will be necessary sometimes to send a frigate to Europe to bring intelligence, to bring passengers, even perhaps to bring commodities or fetch stores. But I hope no frigate will ever again be sent to cruise, or be put under the command of anybody in Europe, consul or minister. They may receive their orders from the navy board in America, and be obliged to obey them. I had a great deal of experience in the government of these frigates, when I had the honor to be one of the ministers plenipotentiary at the Court of Versailles, and afterwards at Nantes, Lorient, and Brest, when I was seeking a passage home. Disputes were perpetually arising between officers and their crews, between captains and their Edition: current; Page: [210] officers, and between the officers of one ship and another. There were never officers enough to compose a court-martial, and nobody had authority to remove or suspend officers without their consent; so that, in short, there was little order, discipline, subordination, or decency.

Another thing; when frigates are under the direction of an authority at a distance of three or four hundred miles, so much time is lost in writing and sending letters and waiting for answers, it has been found an intolerable embarrassment to the service. It is now two years since consuls were expected, and a secretary to this mission. It is a great misfortune to the United States that they have not arrived. Every man can see that it has been a great misfortune, but none can tell how great. There is much reason to believe that if our establishments here had been upon a well-digested plan and completed, and if our affairs had been urged with as much skill and industry as they might in that case have been, that we should at this moment have been blessed with peace, or at least with that tranquillity and security, which would have resulted from a total expulsion of the English from the United States and the West India Islands.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
29 June, 1780
Paris
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.

My Dear Sir,

Mr. Mazzei called on me last evening to let me know he was this morning, at three, to set off on his journey to Italy. He desired me to write you that he has communicated to me the nature of his errand, but that his papers being lost, he waits for a commission and instructions from you; that being limited to five per cent., and more than that being given by the powers of Europe, and, indeed, having been offered by other States, and even by the ministers of congress, he has little hopes of succeeding at so low an interest; that he shall, however, endeavor to prepare the way in Italy for borrowing, and hopes to be useful to Virginia and the United States.

I know nothing of this gentleman, but what I have learned of him here. His great affection for you, Mr. Wythe, Mr. Mason, and other choice spirits in Virginia, recommended him Edition: current; Page: [211] to me. I know not in what light he stands in your part; but here, as far as I have had opportunity to see and hear, he has been useful to us. He kept good company, and a good deal of it. He talks a great deal, and is a zealous defender of our affairs. His variety of languages, and his knowledge of American affairs, gave him advantages, which he did not neglect.

What his success will be in borrowing money, I know not. We are impatient to learn whether Virginia and the other States have adopted the plan of finances recommended by congress on the 18th of March. I think we shall do no great things at borrowing, unless that system or some other, calculated to bring things to some certain and steady standard, succeeds.

Before this reaches you, you will have learned the circumstances of the insurrections in England, which discover so deep and so general a discontent and distress, that no wonder the nation stand gazing at one another in astonishment and horror. To what extremities their confusions will proceed, no man can tell. They seem unable to unite in any principle, and to have no confidence in one another. Thus it is, when truth and virtue are lost. These, surely, are not the people who ought to have absolute authority over us, in all cases whatsoever. This is not the nation which is to bring us to unconditional submission.

The loss of Charleston has given a rude shock to our feelings. I am distressed for our worthy friends in that quarter. But the possession of that town must weaken and perplex the enemy more than us.

By this time you know more than I do, of the destination and the operations of French and Spanish armaments. May they have success, and give us ease and liberty, if the English will not give us peace!

I have the honor to be, with affectionate respect, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
29 June, 1780
Paris
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin

TO B. FRANKLIN.

Sir,

I have the honor to inclose a copy of a letter of the Count de Vergennes to me, of the 21st of this month, and a copy of my answer to his Excellency, of the 22d.

Edition: current; Page: [212]

This correspondence is upon a subject that has lain much out of the way of my particular pursuits, and, therefore, I may be inaccurate in some things; but, in the principles, I am well persuaded I am right. I hope that things are explained so as to be intelligible, and that there is nothing inconsistent with that decency, which ought in such a case to be observed.

If your Excellency thinks me materially wrong in any thing, I should be much obliged to you to point it out to me, for I am open to conviction.

This affair, in America, is a very tender and dangerous business, and requires all the address, as well as all the firmness of congress, to extricate the country out of the embarrassment arising from it; and there is no possible system, I believe, that could give universal satisfaction to all; but this appears to me to promise to give more general satisfaction than any other that I have ever heard suggested. I have added copies of the whole correspondence.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count
30 June, 1780
Versailles
John Adams
Adams, John

COUNT DE VERGENNES TO JOHN ADAMS.
(Translation.)

Sir,

I have received the letter, which you did me the honor to write me on the 22d instant, on the subject of the resolution of congress, of the 18th of March last. I have already informed you, that it was by no means my intention to analyze this resolution, insofar as it respects the citizens of the United States, nor to examine whether circumstances authorize the arrangement or not. I had but one object in writing to you with the confidence I thought due to your knowledge and your attachment to the alliance, which was to convince you that the French ought not to be confounded with the Americans, and that there would be a manifest injustice in making them sustain the loss with which they are threatened.

The details into which you have thought proper to enter have not changed my sentiments; but I think that all further discussion between us on this subject will be needless, and I content myself to remark to you, that if the King’s council regards Edition: current; Page: [213] the resolution of congress in a false point of view, as you maintain, the Chevalier de la Luzerne, who is on the spot, will not fail to elucidate it; and that if congress on their part shall not adopt the representations, which that minister is charged to make to them, they will undoubtedly communicate to us the reasons upon which they will rest their refusal. Should these be well founded, the King will take them into consideration, his Majesty demanding nothing but the most exact justice. In the opposite case, he will renew his instances to the United States, and will confidently expect from their penetration and wisdom, a decision conformable to his demand. His Majesty is by so much the more persuaded that congress will give their whole attention to this business, that that assembly, to judge by their reiterated assurances of the fact, value differently from yourself, sir, the union which subsists between France and the United States, and that they will assuredly feel that the French may deserve some preference over the other nations, who have no treaty with America, and who have not even as yet acknowledged her Independence.

I have the honor to be, &c.
De Vergennes.
John Adams
Adams, John
1 July, 1780
Paris
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count

TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Sir,

I had this morning the honor of your letter of the 30th of June.

It is very certain that the representations from his Majesty, which may be made by his minister, the Chevalier de la Luzerne, will be attended to by congress with all possible respect; and its due weight will be given to every fact and argument, that he may adduce; and I am well persuaded, that congress will be able to give such reasons for their final result, as will give entire satisfaction to his Majesty, and remove every color of just complaint from his subjects.

As in my letter of the 22d of last month, I urged such reasons as appeared to me incontestable, to show that the resolution of congress of the 18th of March, connected with the other resolution, to pay the loan office certificates, according to the value of money at the time they were emitted, being a determination to pay the full value of all the bills and certificates, which were Edition: current; Page: [214] out, and the depreciation of both being more the act and fault of their possessors than of government, was neither a violation of the public faith, nor an act of bankruptcy, I have the honor to agree with your Excellency, in opinion, that any further discussion of these questions is unnecessary.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
2 July, 1780
Paris
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count

TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Sir,

I have the honor to inclose a Boston paper of the 1st of May, containing an account of the arrival of the Marquis de Lafayette; an extract of a letter from London; and another from a letter of Dr. Benjamin Rush, of Philadelphia, once a member of congress, and a gentleman of very good intelligence. He speaks the French language very well; was, about ten years ago, in Paris, and is a correspondent of Dr. Dubourg.

This letter was brought me by two young gentlemen, natives of Philadelphia, graduates in the university there, of Quaker families, who are students in medicine, and are come to Paris to complete their education in the faculty. They confirm Dr. Rush’s sentiments very fully. Two other gentlemen, just arrived from New England, confirm the same in the Eastern States.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Benjamin Rush
Rush, Benjamin
28 April, 1780
Philadelphia
John Adams
Adams, John

(Inclosed Extract.)
B. RUSH TO JOHN ADAMS.

Our affairs wear their usual checkered aspect. Our governments are daily acquiring new strength. Our army, which I saw a few weeks ago at Morristown, has improved greatly in discipline since our former correspondence, in economy and healthiness. The number of our soldiers is small, occasioned not by a decay of military or whiggish spirit among us, but by the want of money to purchase recruits. The new scheme of congress for calling in the circulating money at forty for one Edition: current; Page: [215] will, I believe, be adopted with some alterations by the States. This will, we hope, restore to our counsels and arms the vigor of 1775.

The French alliance is not less dear to the true whigs than independence itself. The Chevalier de la Luzerne has made even the tories forget in some degree, in his liberality and politeness, the mischianzas1 of their British friends. M. Gérard is still dear to the faithful citizens of America. We call him the “republican minister.”

William Lee
Lee, William
8 July, 1780
Brussels
John Adams
Adams, John

WILLIAM LEE TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

I have been prevented by indisposition, otherwise should have had the honor of writing to you sooner on a subject which appears to affect the honor of America, of congress, and of its agents in Europe. The copy of General Clinton’s letter that was intercepted, which you sent here to Mr. Jenings, having afterwards appeared in most of the public papers, there was a formal contradiction of its authenticity, first in the Hague Gazette, and inserted in such a manner as to make the world believe that this contradiction came from Sir Joseph Yorke, the English minister. The Leyden Gazette confirmed in some measure this contradiction, in which it was followed by the Courier du Bas-Rhin, though it had before given the letter at length, as having been originally published by order of congress; but, after the intelligence of the surrender of Charleston, this same gazetteer,—namely, the Courier du Bas-Rhin, in No. 51, of 24 June, 1780,—positively states that letter to have been a forgery, and concludes in these injurious terms,—“Done il vaut mieux se bien défendre et se bien battre que de supposer des lettres qui ne peuvent abuser le public qu’un moment.” You must be sensible of the injury it will bring to America and the cause of liberty, if the world is permitted to be impressed with the idea that congress and its agents are base enough to be guilty of such Edition: current; Page: [216] a mean and pitiful conduct as to forge and publish the grossest falsehoods as solid truths.

Mr. Dumas, who is styled by Dr. Franklin and Mr. Deane the American agent at the Hague, and who is actually paid with the money of America, has a particular connection with the editor of the Leyden Gazette, and, I have reason to believe, has a correspondence with the Bas-Rhin; therefore, one would naturally imagine, as it was his duty, he would have taken some measures to prevent such a censure on America, &c. from spreading further than in the same circle in which the Hague Gazette circulates.1 The Bas-Rhin Gazette, as well as that of Berlin, is generally looked on as a Prussian Court gazette, being printed in the capital of the Prussian dominions on the Rhine, and, I have no doubt, if the Prussian minister at Paris was spoken to on the subject, a repetition of such conduct would at least be prevented in the editor of that gazette.

As Don Solano has returned to Cadiz with his squadron, leaving only four ships of the line to convoy the fleet to the West Indies, all my pleasing prospects of peace, from the hopes of the enemy suffering some capital loss there in this campaign, are totally vanished; for on the arrival of Graves and Walsingham, who have been permitted to go unmolested, the superiority of the enemy at sea will be so decided, that France will be fortunate, if she loses no more than those islands she had before taken from the English. Hitherto, Rodney has only shown his superiority in the art of boasting, which is certainly his forte.

The original force, intended to go under M. Ternay, has unhappily been diminished one half; no effectual, offensive operation can be expected from that expedition; and if it is true, as it is reported, that in the fall M. Ternay goes to the West Indies, the progress of the enemy northward, from South Carolina, may be greater, during the fall, winter, and spring, than most people imagine; when, in the course of a campaign or two, the four Eastern States and France may too late repent, one for supporting, and the others for not crushing in the bud the dangerous and alarming designs that began to appear in Philadelphia and congress Edition: current; Page: [217] eighteen months ago; if it is expected that M. Ternay is to render any effectual service to America, it is most clear to me, that he ought to winter in Chesapeake Bay, in Virginia, where, with very great ease, he may be secure against a very superior force, and prevent any attempt of the enemy for enlarging their quarters northward from Carolina. If the Court of Versailles should approve of such a plan, orders accordingly cannot be sent out too soon to M. Ternay; and if the squadron in the West Indies is to be reinforced or relieved, that should be done with clean and fresh ships from Europe.

From this, you will perceive that a speedy peace is not in my view. Indeed, it is not. I know the enemy too well; they will not seriously think of peace (though they will never cease in their attempts to divide and disunite the parties, which, I well know, they are endeavoring at now) while they have the least glimmering of hope left, unless it is on the terms of America again submitting to the British yoke, and France relinquishing the islands she has taken. Such a peace, I presume, will never take place. I am sure it cannot while America continues united.

It is said that young Mr. Laurens was gone from Carolina to congress, and as Mr. Laurens the elder has not yet arrived there seems to be too much reason to apprehend his having met with some unhappy accident at sea.

Adieu.
W. Lee.
James Lovell
Lovell, James
William Churchill Houston
Houston, William Churchill
11 July, 1780
Philadelphia
John Adams
Adams, John

THE COMMITTEE OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO JOHN ADAMS.

The inclosed resolutions and commission will explain themselves;1 and we have only to add a request that, in the event of your not being able to undertake the business to which they point, you will furnish Mr. Dana with the papers, as we have not time to make out or procure other copies for him.

We are, sir, &c.
James Lovell,
William Churchill Houston.
Edition: current; Page: [218]
James Lovell
Lovell, James
William Churchill Houston
Houston, William Churchill
12 July, 1780
Sir,

Inclosed you have a description of the bills of exchange, concerning which we have written you. The secret checks accompany it. They are just furnished us by the treasury board, and we are sorry that the paper is so indifferent, but hope it will answer the purpose of information. We are assured the copy is exact. It is, however, necessary to observe that, unless the impression of the bills is very fine and clean, it will be very difficult to discover the whole of the secret checks perfectly.

We are sir, &c.
James Lovell,
William Churchill Houston.
James Lovell
Lovell, James
William Churchill Houston
Houston, William Churchill
11 July, 1780
Philadelphia
John Adams
Adams, John

THE COMMITTEE OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

Your letters, one of the 3d and three of the 4th of April, were received in congress yesterday. We are to thank you for the intelligence they contain, and are, sir,

Your very humble servants,
James Lovell,
William Churchill Houston.
James Lovell
Lovell, James
1 August, 1780

P. S. Your various letters by Mr. Izard were this day read, of dates from March 20 to 29. That of the 24th, respecting two points on which you wish for instructions, is committed specially to five.1

J. L.
John Adams
Adams, John
13 July, 1780
Paris
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count

TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Sir,

By the treaty of alliance of the 6th of February, 1778, Edition: current; Page: [219] his Majesty and the United States agreed, in case of war, to join their counsels and efforts against the enterprises of the common enemy; to make it a common cause, and aid each other mutually with their good offices, their counsels, and their forces, according to the exigencies of conjunctures; and each of the contracting parties, in the manner it may judge most proper, is to make all the efforts in its power against the common enemy.

I have cited these clauses from the treaty, not as foundations of any demand that I have to make, because they are neither proper to support any demand, nor have I authority to make any if they were, but as an apology for the liberty I take of requesting your Excellency’s attention to a few observations upon the present conjuncture of affairs.

It is certain, from the best intelligence from London, as well as from the debates in parliament on the several motions which have been made for a pacification, that the British ministry are inflexibly determined to pursue the war another campaign in America, to send more troops and ships there, if they possibly can obtain them, and to put to the hazard not only the national credit, but their maritime power, and even their political existence, rather than give up their designs of domination over America; and, indeed, this is not at all to be wondered at, that the ministers and the nation who have so far lost their justice, their humanity, and policy, as to deliberately form and pursue the plan of changing the foundations of the laws and government of thirteen Colonies, and reducing them to slavery, and who have pursued this object with such sanguinary fury for so many years, should persist so as to bury themselves in the ruins of the empire rather than to fail of their purpose, when it is plain they consider, and that not without reason, the same ruin in the independence of America and her connection with France.

The conduct of Count de Guichen, on the 17th of April and the 15th and 19th of May, in the West Indies, does great honor to the national bravery as well as to their science in naval tactics, and shows that there is no cause to fear that the enemy will obtain any advantage there. Yet nothing has yet been done on either side that seems decisive.

The advantages which Spain has gained in West Florida, and particularly of late at Mobile, and the probability that she will succeed in acquiring both the Floridas, show that the English Edition: current; Page: [220] are on the losing hand in that quarter; but it is not the loss of both the Floridas nor of all their West India Islands, in my opinion, that will induce them to make peace and acknowledge the independence of America in alliance with France. They will see every possession they have beyond their island lopped off, one after another, before they will do this.

I pretend not to know to what part of America M. de Ternay and M. de Rochambeau are destined; but to whatever part it is, whether Canada, Nova Scotia, New York, Carolina, or Georgia, I have no hopes of any thing decisive from their operations, although they should be instructed to coöperate with General Washington. If they should be destined against Canada or Nova Scotia, they may succeed; but this success will not be decisive. If they are intended against New York, I have no hopes of their success. The naval force is not sufficient to command the seas. Admiral Graves, added to the ships before at New York, will be superior; and I shall venture to give my opinion, that, without a superiority of naval force, clear and indisputable, New York will never be taken. It is so situated, it is so fortified, it is garrisoned with troops so accustomed to war, and so embittered and inflamed by cruel passions carefully nursed up in their breasts by their king and their generals, and it is universally regarded by them a post of such essential importance, that I confess I should despair of success against it with an army twice as numerous as that of the Generals Washington and Rochambeau united, while the English are masters of the seas, or even while they have there an equality of naval power.

Most people in Europe have wondered at the inactivity of the American army for these two years past; but it is merely from want of knowledge or attention. The true cause of it is,—the English have confined themselves to their strong-holds in seaport towns, and have been sheltered from all attacks and insults there by the guns of their men-of-war; and they forever will be so while they have the superiority at sea. If our army had been three times as numerous as it was, it must have remained inactive without a fleet to coöperate with it; for an attack upon New York, without a fleet, would have been only sacrificing the lives of thousands of brave men without a possibility of succeeding.

Had the English two years ago marched into the country from Edition: current; Page: [221] Philadelphia, instead of retreating back with precipitation to New York, Europe would have heard more of the exertions of the American army; so much more, that, in my serious opinion, you would have heard of their total destruction. As it was, they were closely pursued, attacked, and, if not beaten, they had much the worst of the action; for, besides their loss in killed and wounded and in those who perished under the fatigue and heat of the day, not less than five hundred deserted from them; and their desertions would have been multiplied in every unsuccessful engagement within the country.

If in the last year the British army had marched out into the country, instead of remaining under cover of their men-of-war, I am equally clear that they would have been ruined. The English, ever since the alliance, have been fearfully apprehensive of an attack upon their strong-holds upon the coast by the French. This it was that induced them to retreat from Philadelphia to New York, and this has kept them almost wholly confined to that garrison the last year. I mention this, merely to wipe off the imputation said to result from the inactivity of our army since the alliance, by showing the true cause of it; that it proceeds not from any change of sentiments in the Americans, but from the change of the mode of prosecuting the war on the part of our enemies.

I am, however, clearly of opinion, and I know it to be the general sense of America, that the English, both in North America and in the West India Islands, have been for these two years past absolutely in the power of their enemies; and that they are so now, and will continue to be so, in such a degree, that nothing will be wanting but attention to their situation, and a judicious application of the forces of the allies, to accomplish the entire reduction of their power in America. In order to show this, let me beg your Excellency’s attention to a few remarks upon the situation of the English, and upon the method of applying the force of the allies so as to reduce them.

The English are in possession of Canada, a province vastly extensive, and in which there is a great number of posts, at a great distance from each other, necessary to be maintained; among a people, too, who are by no means attached to them, but who would readily afford all the assistance in their power to the united forces of France and the United States, and who Edition: current; Page: [222] would join them in considerable numbers. In this whole province, the English have not, comprehending the garrisons of all their posts, more than four thousand men.

The English are in possession of Nova Scotia; they have in Halifax and the other posts of the province and at Penobscot about three thousand men. But the people of this province, being descendants and emigrants from New England chiefly, are discontented with the British government and desirous of joining the United States. They are in possession of New York Island, Staten Island, and Long Island, where they have in all of regular British troops, perhaps thousand men. The militia, volunteers, &c., of whom they make such an ostentatious display in the despatches of their generals and in the gazette of St. James are of very little consideration; their numbers are much exaggerated; it is force, fear, and policy that enroll the greater part of them; there are perhaps fifteen thousand inhabitants of the city. These, together with the army and navy, are fed and supplied with provisions and stores and fuel, and their cattle and horses with forage, brought by sea from Quebec, Halifax, Ireland, and the West Indies, except the small quantity which they draw from Long Island and Staten Island.

They are now in possession of Charleston, in South Carolina, and Savannah, in Georgia. Their armies and navies in these places, as well as the inhabitants, must be chiefly supplied by sea in the same manner. They are still perhaps in possession of St. Augustine, in East Florida, and Pensacola in the west. From these places they have drawn of late years great supplies of lumber and provisions for their West India Islands. The number of troops in Georgia and Carolina may amount to thousands. They are in possession of Jamaica, Barbadoes, Antigua, St. Christophers, and St. Lucia, and other islands. These draw supplies of provisions and lumber, &c., from Quebec, Halifax, Pensacola, and Augustine, that is, from the Floridas. The number of troops they have in each island I am not able to ascertain; but certainly they are not strong in any of them; and the climate in the West Indies, and in Georgia and Carolina, is making a rapid consumption of their men.

From this sketch it will be easily seen what a great number of posts they have to sustain; how these are mutually connected with and dependent on each other, and that their existence in Edition: current; Page: [223] all of them depends upon their superiority at sea; and that to carry on the intercourse and communication between these various places, a vast number of transports, provision vessels, and merchant ships are necessary. This is so much the fact, that the English nation has now little navigation left but what is employed in maintaining the communication of these places with one another and with Europe. Here then it is that the English commerce and navy is vulnerable; and this it is which clearly points out to their enemies the only sure and certain way of reducing their power in that quarter of the world; and if it is reduced there, it is brought into a narrow compass everywhere.

The policy and necessity of keeping always a superior fleet both in the West India Islands and on the coast of the continent of North America, is from all this very obvious. The English are so sensible of this, that they dread it as the greatest evil that can befall them. The appearance of the Count d’Estaing upon the coast of North America never failed to throw the English into the utmost terror and consternation.

The appearance of a French fleet upon our coasts has repeatedly compelled, and ever must compel, the English to call off from their cruises all their frigates and other ships, and to assemble them at New York for their security, and the defence of that place. These are among the happy effects of such a measure,—the communication of the United States not only with each other but with the West Indies, with France, and all other parts of Europe with which they have any concern, is immediately opened, and they are thereby easily furnished in all parts with every thing fitting and necessary to carry on the war with the greatest vigor. His Majesty’s fleets and armies will be amply and much more cheaply supplied, and his subjects will reap, in common with the inhabitants of the United States, the benefits of this free commerce. It will give free sea-room to the few frigates belonging to congress and the several States, to cruise for the merchant ships, provision vessels, and transports of the enemy. It gives opportunity also to the privateers to do the same. There are at this day, notwithstanding the dreadful sacrifices made at Charleston and Penobscot, sacrifices the necessity of which would have been entirely prevented by a few ships of the line, the continental frigates, the Confederacy which is arrived at Philadelphia, the Alliance which will soon be there, the Trumbull, Edition: current; Page: [224] the Deane, the Bourbon, and also a ship of fifty-six guns which is nearly ready for sea. The State of Massachusetts has two frigates and several smaller vessels. There are, besides these, now in being, belonging to Newburyport, Beverly, Salem, Marblehead, Portsmouth, Boston, and Rhode Island, about forty privateers. There are several belonging to Philadelphia.

If a French fleet should constantly remain upon that coast, the number of these privateers would be doubled in a very few months. What havoc then must these armed vessels make, especially if a few French frigates should be also ordered to cruise for prizes among the provision vessels, merchant ships, and transports, passing and repassing to and from America and the West India Islands to Europe, and to and from America and the West Indies, and to and from Quebec, Nova Scotia, New York, Charleston, Savannah, and the Floridas. Such depredations have several times been made by our cruisers alone as to reduce the English at New York to very great distress; and it would be very easy in this way to reduce them to such misery as to oblige them to surrender at discretion.

I therefore beg leave to submit it to your Excellency’s consideration, whether there is any possible way that a marine force can be employed against the English, so much to the advantage of France and the disadvantage of England, as in this way; and whether, upon the principles of French interest and policy alone, even without taking into consideration that of the United States, a fleet ought not to be constantly kept in North America. The advantages they will there have in artists, supplies, accommodations, &c., above the English, are obvious.

But the question will arise, where shall they winter? I answer, they can winter with perfect security and advantage either at Boston, Rhode Island, Delaware or Chesapeake Bay.

Another question will arise, whether they should all winter together in one port, or be separated to several ports? I apprehend, however, that it would be most prudent to leave it to the discretion of the commander-in-chief of the squadron to keep the squadron together, or to detach parts of it, according to the exigencies of the service, advising with congress or with the Chevalier de la Luzerne from time to time.

Two ships of the line, with three frigates, stationed at Boston, with orders to cruise occasionally for the protection of French Edition: current; Page: [225] and American trade and the annoyance of the enemy; the same number at Rhode Island, with the same orders; the same number at Delaware River, with similar orders; and a like number in Chesapeake Bay, with like orders; which would make eight ships of the line and twelve frigates, I have a moral certainty, would, in one year, reduce the power of the English in North America to absolute annihilation without striking a blow on land. These ships would make a diversion of an equal force of the English from the West India Islands, so that they would be in that respect as usefully employed for his Majesty there as anywhere. Eight ships of the line and twelve frigates stationed together at Rhode Island, with orders to cruise for the same purposes, would do the same thing.

Which plan would do best, I dare not undertake to say; but, until further informed and instructed by congress, I should think, however, that the best plan would be to station the fleet for the winter either in Delaware or Chesapeake Bay; and as the war has lately turned to the southward, I am inclined to think that Chesapeake Bay would be the most proper.

But, in all events, I beg leave to entreat in the most earnest manner that a powerful fleet may be ordered to winter somewhere in North America. By this means, I think there is a moral certainty the English will be ruined there, whereas, if dependence is had upon the assault and attack of their strongholds, without the most absolute command of the sea, I fear it will end in disappointment and disgrace.

There is the more urgent reason for laying these considerations before your Excellency, because there is a portion of the people in America who wish to return to the domination of Great Britain, many of whom are artful and sensible men. They take notice of every circumstance of the conduct of France, and represent it in such a light as they think will throw a prejudice against the alliance into the minds of the people. They represent the affair of Rhode Island and of Savannah, and some other things, as proofs that the Court of France do not mean to give any effectual aid to America, but only to play off her strength against that of Britain, and thus exhaust both. The refugees in England concur with them in these representations, and the ministry and the members of parliament in their public speeches represent the same thing. Edition: current; Page: [226] Even Mr. Hartley, who is more for peace than any man in that kingdom, in a printed letter to the inhabitants of the county of York, says,—“It is our duty to unravel by negotiation the combination of powers now acting against us;” and he says further, in express words, that “it is apparent to all the world, that France might long ago have put an end to that part of the war which has been most distressing to America, if they had chosen so to do.” He must mean here the war of their frigates and privateers upon our trade. “Let the whole system of France be considered,” says he, “from the beginning down to the late retreat from Savannah, and I think it is impossible to put any other construction upon it but this, namely,—that it has always been the deliberate intention and object of France, for purposes of their own, to encourage the continuation of the war in America, in hopes of exhausting the strength and resources of this country, and of depressing the rising power of America.” This is not only the language of Mr. Hartley, but the general language of newspapers and pamphlets, and, I am well informed, of conversation in England. These are very industriously sent to America through various channels, which cannot be stopped by laws, art, or power.

The body of the people have great confidence in the sincerity of France; but if these contrary opinions should be suffered to gain ground, as they most assuredly will if something is not done to prevent it, when all the world sees and declares as they do, that it is the best policy of France, if she considered her own interest alone in the conduct of the war, to keep a superior naval force upon the coast of the continent of North America, I leave your Excellency to judge what a melancholy effect it will have upon our affairs. There is no event, in my opinion, which would have so direct a tendency to give force and extent to opinions so dangerous to both nations, as the calling off from the continent your naval force during the winter, and not keeping a superiority there through the year. I scruple not to give it as my opinion, that it will disunite, weaken, and distress us more than we should have been disunited, weakened, or distressed, if the alliance had never been made.

The United States of America are a great and powerful people, whatever European statesmen may think of them. If we take into our estimate the numbers and the character of her people, Edition: current; Page: [227] the extent, variety, and fertility of her soil, her commerce, and her skill and materials for ship-building, and her seamen, excepting France, Spain, England, Germany, and Russia, there is not a state in Europe so powerful. Breaking off such a nation as this from the English so suddenly, and uniting it so closely with France, is one of the most extraordinary events that ever happened among mankind. The prejudices of nations in favor of themselves and against all other nations, which spring from self-love, and are often nurtured by policy for unworthy purposes, and which have been ever certainly cultivated by the English with the utmost care in the minds of the Americans, as well as of the people of every other part of their dominions, certainly deserve the attention of the wisest statesmen; and as they are not to be eradicated in a moment, they require to be managed with some delicacy.

It is too often said in France, where the prejudice against the English has not been fostered into so much rancor, because France never had so much to fear from England as England has from France, “that the Americans and the English are the same thing,” not to make it appear that there are some remnants of prejudices against the Americans among the French, and it must be confessed there are some in America against France. It is really astonishing, however, that there are so few, and it is the interest and duty of both to lessen them as fast as possible, and to avoid with the nicest care every colorable cause of reviving any part of them.

I beg your Excellency to excuse this trouble, because the state of things in North America has really become alarming, and this merely for the want of a few French men-of-war upon that coast; and to believe me to be. &c.

John Adams.
David Hartley
Hartley, David
17 July, 1780
London
John Adams
Adams, John

DAVID HARTLEY TO JOHN ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

Inclosed I send you a copy of a conciliatory bill which I moved in parliament on the 27th of the last month.

You will perceive by the tenor of it that it is drawn up in very general terms, containing a general power to treat, with something like a sketch of a line of negotiation. As the bill Edition: current; Page: [228] was not accepted by the ministers in this country, I have nothing further to say relating to it. As to my own private sentiments and endeavors, they always have been, and ever will be, devoted to the restoration of peace upon honorable terms. I shall be always ready, and most desirous to conspire in any measures which may lead to that end.

I am, dear sir, your most obedient servant,
D. Hartley.
John Adams
Adams, John
17 July, 1780
Paris
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count

TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Sir,

In your Excellency’s letter to me, of the 24th of February last, I was honored with your opinion, in the following words:—

“With regard to the full powers, which authorize you to negotiate a treaty of commerce with the Court of London, I think it will be prudent not to communicate them to anybody whatever, and to take all possible precautions, that the British ministry may not have a premature knowledge of them. You will, surely, of yourself, feel the motives, which induce me to advise you to take this precaution, and it would be needless to explain them.”

1. I should have been very happy if your Excellency had hinted at the reasons, which were then in your mind, because after reflecting upon this subject as maturely as I can, I am not able to collect any reasons, which appear to me sufficient for concealing the nature of my powers in their full extent, from the Court of London. On the contrary, many arguments have occurred to me, which seem to show it to be both the policy of the United States, and my particular duty, to communicate them.

2. Your Excellency will recollect, that my commissions empower me to join with the ministers of the belligerent powers in making peace; to make a treaty of commerce with the ministers of his Britannic Majesty; and to represent the congress as their minister plenipotentiary, at the Court of London. It seems to me then, inconsistent with the design and nature of my appointments, to conceal them from the Court of London.

3. I think, also, that announcing my powers to the Court of Edition: current; Page: [229] London would have a tendency to draw out from them some proofs of their present designs, and it is always important to discover early the intentions of the enemy, that the people may be prepared, both with counsels and forces, to resist them if hostile.

4. The English nation would expect of the ministers, that some answer should be given to me. If it should be an insolent one, as there is too much cause to expect, it will prepare the minds of the Americans, and of the other belligerent powers, for what they are to expect, and it will alarm and arouse, if any thing can, the people of England.

5. At this particular time, when an election approaches, it would throw the ministry into some embarrassment; for the people of England sigh for peace.

6. Another consideration has weight with me; a great part of Europe, as well as the people of England, are amused by the English ministers and their emissaries with reports that there is some secret treaty between France and the United States, by which the former have secured to themselves exclusive privileges in some branches of the American commerce, which misrepresentations, as they are at present an obstruction to peace, would be cleared up by the communication of my powers.

7. There are at present many persons of consideration in England, who have long followed the ministry in the war against America, who begin to see the impracticability of succeeding, and now vote for peace, and will lay hold of every occurrence that favors its accomplishment.

8. At this moment, under the wild impression that the surrender of Charleston has made, it might be improper to make the communication; but upon the news coming of M. de Ternay’s arrival, of Don Solano’s, or both, or upon the receipt of some intelligence, which may take off a part of this impression, I submit it to your Excellency’s consideration, whether it would not be proper to communicate my appointments to Lord George Germaine. It seems to be most proper that it should be done, so that the nation may consider them before the meeting of parliament, and that those who wish for peace may digest their plans accordingly.

9. Notwithstanding the suppression of the late riots, and the Edition: current; Page: [230] consequent temporary relaxation of the committees and associations, the nation is in a most critical situation. Those disturbances were not simply the effect of fanaticism and bigotry, but of deep and general discontent and distress among the people; and although the ministry may at present be confident they have suppressed them forever, they will surely find themselves mistaken if they pursue this war. I know of no measure, that will be more likely to increase the opposition against administration, than communicating my powers. It will at least show all the world, that the continuance of the war and the consequent ruin of England is their own fault, not that of the Americans, who are ready to make peace upon terms honorable and advantageous to Great Britain.

10. I am the more confirmed in those opinions, by the communication your Excellency made to me yesterday, of the message sent by the Court of London to the Court of Madrid. I am convinced, in my own mind, that that message is insidious in the last degree, and that it is intended to answer two ends only; first, to spy out what they can of the political and military plans of Spain; secondly and principally, to amuse France, Spain, and America, too, with false ideas of pacific inclinations, simply in order to slacken and enervate their preparations for the next campaign.

11. Sincere intentions of making peace, upon any terms which France or America can agree to, consistent with subsisting treaties, I am as sure they have not, as I am of their existence. Now I think there is no way of counteracting this insidious policy so honorably and so effectually, as by a frank and decent communication of my full powers. This will necessitate them to come to an explanation of their real intentions concerning America; for there, sir, lies the obstacle to peace; all other questions would be soon arranged, if that was settled.

I hope your Excellency will pardon the long letters I write you, because it is really a voluminous subject we have in contemplation, and mankind in general are little less interested in it, than our particular countries. I shall hope for the honor of your Excellency’s answer upon these subjects; and I remain with great respect and attachment, &c.

John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [231]
John Adams
Adams, John
20 July, 1780
Paris
William Lee
Lee, William

TO WILLIAM LEE.

Dear Sir,

Yours of the 8th I received in due course of post. The letter from Clinton arrived first at Lorient, in a Philadelphia newspaper, which had been sent to Mr. Jay. Mr. Wharton, I think, copied it, and sent it to Dr. Franklin, who communicated it soon after it appeared in Boston and other newspapers, without a hint of its want of authenticity. Within a few days past, I have seen a gentleman from America, who says it was a mere jeu d’esprit, written by an officer in the army, upon the North River. I have been all along afraid that our countrymen would at length imitate their enemies in this kind of imposition; and I always thought that, whenever they did, they would be ingenious at it. It must be agreed this is ingeniously done, and conveys a great deal of solid truth and important instruction under this fiction. Yet, I cannot think the ingenuity of it a justification or excuse. We have no need of such aids as political lies. Our character for truth, sincerity, and candor, is more real strength, than ever can be derived from such impostures, however artfully performed. The influence this practice has upon the world, in destroying confidence, and in poisoning the morals of the people, the pure and single source of which is truth, ought to induce us to discountenance the practice by all means. The liberty of the press by no means includes a right of imposing on mankind by such detestable forgeries. I cannot, therefore, think that the reflection you quote from the newspaper was too severe. All that we can do, is to write to congress and beseech them to suppress such practices. The signature of Charles Thomson, hitherto sacred, will no longer be credited, if something is not done to discountenance such abuses.

Don Solano has not returned to Cadiz; but what will be done in the West Indies, time alone can discover. Whether M. de Ternay will go to the West Indies, stay in America, or come to Europe, I know not. I have not contented myself with giving my sentiments of what ought to be done, by word of mouth, but I have stated it in writing, with my reasons at large, to more than one minister, and of all this I shall inform congress in detail, who will see and judge who is right.

Edition: current; Page: [232]

You say that a speedy peace is not at present in your view. This is so far from being surprising to me, that I wonder you ever should have had any pleasing prospects of peace, from the enemy’s suffering some capital loss in the West Indies. They are in such a sulky, mulish, suicidical temper, that they would not make peace, if you took every island they have. This is my opinion. The suppression of the riots, committees, associations, correspondences and all, have given ministry more giddy confidence, than even the taking of Charleston. I fear America must reconcile herself to the thought of growing up in the midst of war, and find her resources in labor, patience, and economy, where she may have them in sufficient abundance.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count
20 July, 1780
Versailles
John Adams
Adams, John

COUNT DE VERGENNES TO JOHN ADAMS.
(Translation.)

Sir,

I have received the letter which you did me the honor to write me on the 13th of this month. I feel very sensibly the confidence with which you have reposed in me your ideas on the present situation of the United States, and the need they have of the immediate assistance of some ships of the line and some frigates. The Chevalier de Ternay and the Count de Rochambeau have been sent with the express design which makes the subject of your letter. They will concert their operations with congress and M. Washington. And as the King has given them no precise orders with regard to their return to Europe, but has, on the contrary, left them at liberty to act as they shall judge useful for the relief of the United States, there is every reason to believe that they will take their station during next winter in North America, if that shall be agreeable to congress, and that they will employ the ships and troops under their command, according to the plan that shall be settled between them and the American generals.

You may judge, sir, by this detail, that the King is very far from abandoning the cause of America, and that his Majesty, without having been solicited by congress, has, on the contrary, taken effectual measures to support it. I flatter myself, sir, that Edition: current; Page: [233] proceedings thus generous will be felt in America, and that they will prevail over the falsehoods which the common enemy and his wicked adherents propagate there, in order to make France suspected, and to induce the Americans to take resolutions which would terminate in their slavery and dishonor.

I have the honor to be, &c.
De Vergennes.
John Adams
Adams, John
21 July, 1780
Paris
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count

TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Sir,

I have received the letter you did me the honor to write me yesterday, and am extremely sensible of your Excellency’s confidence in communicating to me the destination of the armament under M. de Ternay and the Count de Rochambeau, and the probability that the ships will winter in North America.

I assure your Excellency that scarcely any news I ever heard gave me more satisfaction; and nothing, in my opinion, can afford a more effectual assistance to America, or make a deeper or more grateful impression on the minds of her inhabitants.

I am infinitely mistaken, if the service of the King in the conduct of the war, both in the West Indies and North America, does not derive such essential advantages from this measure as will demonstrate its wisdom to all the world; as well as, to the English and the Americans, the King’s determined benevolence to the American cause.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
23 July, 1780
Paris

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I have been amused some time with dark and unintelligible hints in letters from London, of some messenger sent from Lord North to Madrid.

Three weeks ago I waited on the Count de Vergennes, at Versailles, to acquaint him that I had an intention of making a journey to Amsterdam for a few weeks, as I flattered myself I Edition: current; Page: [234] might form some acquaintances or correspondences there, and collect some intelligence, that might be useful to the United States. His Excellency desired me to wait some time, for that in eight or ten days he believed he should have something to communicate to me. I assured him that I would not go till I saw him again or heard further from him. This day sevennight, his Excellency informed me that he was ready to let me know that a messenger from the Court of London had arrived at Madrid; that the Spanish ministry had demanded the sentiments of the British Court concerning America. He said he was not instructed. He was told he must previously explain himself upon that subject. He determined to send an express to London for instructions. This the Count de Vergennes said would take up two months, and consequently leave me time enough to go to Holland; but if any thing should happen in the meantime he would give me the earliest information of it.

In the Courier de l’Europe of the 14th of July is this paragraph.

“The report runs, that a person who has been secretary of the Marquis d’Almodovar, during his embassy from the Court of Madrid to that of London, arrived here (London) some weeks ago, on board the Milford, coming from Oporto; that after a stay of eight days this frigate had orders to transport to Lisbon this person, accompanied by Mr. Cumberland, Secretary of Lord George Germaine, whose instructions imply that, if at the end of twenty days he is not called to Madrid, he is to return here immediately. As soon as this person arrived at Lisbon, he set out for Madrid, where, fifteen days after, Mr. Cumberland was invited to go, and where he is at present.”

There is a body of people in England who are zealous and clamorous for peace, and the ministry find their account in amusing and silencing them by some equivocal appearances of negotiation. They have ever made it a part of their political system to hold out to America some false hopes of reconciliation and peace, in order to slacken our nerves and retard our preparations. They think also that they can amuse the Courts of France and Spain with a talk about conferences and negotiations, while they are secretly concerting measures to succor Gibraltar and carry on their operations the next campaign. But serious thoughts of peace upon any terms that we can agree to, Edition: current; Page: [235] I am well persuaded they never had; but if they ever did entertain any thoughts of negotiation, it must have been at the time of their consternation for Sir Henry Clinton and their despair of his success.

The total and absolute suppression of the tumults in London, and the triumphant success of Clinton, beyond their most sanguine expectations, have now given them such exultation, and confidence that the people of America will dethrone congress, and, like the Israelites of old, demand a king, that they now think of nothing but unconditional submission, or at least of delusive proffers of terms which they know the majority of the people in America will not agree to, in order to divide us, to make a few gentlemen apostates and some soldiers deserters.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count
25 July, 1780
Versailles
John Adams
Adams, John

COUNT DE VERGENNES TO JOHN ADAMS.
(Translation.)

Sir,

I have received the letter which you have done me the honor to write to me on the 17th of this month. I have read it with the most serious attention, and in order to give you an answer with greater exactness, I have placed it on the margin of each paragraph which seemed to require observations on my part. You will there see, sir, that I persist in thinking the time to communicate your full powers to Lord Germaine is not yet come, and you will there find the reasons on which I ground my opinion. I have no doubt you will feel the force of them, and that they will determine you to think with me. But if that should not be the case, I pray you, and even require you, in the name of the King, to communicate your letter and my answer to the United States, and to suspend, until you shall receive orders from them, all steps relating to the English ministry. I shall, on my part, transmit my observations to America, in order that M. de la Luzerne may make the members of congress possessed of them; and I dare to believe that that assembly will consider the opinion of the ministry of France worthy of some attention, and that they will not be afraid of going astray or of betraying the Edition: current; Page: [236] interests of the United States, by adopting it as a rule of their conduct.1

I have the honor to be, &c.
De Vergennes.
John Adams
Adams, John
17th July, 1780

OBSERVATIONS ON MR. ADAMS’S LETTER OF 17TH JULY, 1780.
(Translation.)

I.2 The reasons, which determined the Count de Vergennes to give Mr. Adams that advice are as plain as they appear absolutely decisive.

1st. To be busy about a treaty of commerce, before peace is established, is like being busy about the ornament of a house before the foundation is laid.

2d. In the situation in which America stands at present with regard to England, to announce to that power that her system of tyranny, her cruelties, and her perfidy are forgotten, is discovering much weakness, or at least much simpleness; it is inviting her to believe that the Americans have an irresistible predilection for her; it is fortifying her in the opinion she entertains, that the American patriots will submit through weariness, or through fear of the preponderating influence of the tories.

3d. To propose a treaty of commerce, which must be founded on confidence, and on a connection equivalent to an alliance, at a time when the war is raging in all its fury, when the Court of London is wishing to ruin or to subjugate America, what is it but to give credit to the opinion which all Europe has ever entertained, conformable to the assertions of the English ministers, that the United States incline towards a defection, and that they will be faithful to their engagements with France, only so long as Great Britain shall furnish no pretext for breaking them?

II. A person may be furnished with plenipotentiary powers, in a certain event, without being under the necessity of publishing them before circumstances permit him to use them. This happens Edition: current; Page: [237] every day. Mr. Adams is charged with three distinct commissions. 1. To take a share in the future negotiations for peace. 2. To conclude a treaty of commerce with Great Britain. 3. To represent the United States at the Court of London. It requires no great effort of genius to show, that these three objects cannot be joined in one act. It requires no more to show that the two last cannot serve as an introduction to the first. It is necessary first of all to obtain from England an acknowledgment of the independence of America, and that this acknowledgment should serve as a foundation for a treaty of peace. Not until after that is obtained, can Mr. Adams talk of a treaty of commerce. To propose one, while the Court of London is flattering itself with the hopes of subduing America, and while with that view it is making the most strenuous efforts, would in the view of that Court be to propose what is chimerical, and would be taking a step which it would hold as a mockery. The case would be the same, were one at this time to talk of a minister plenipotentiary from the United States, appointed to reside at the Court of his Britannic Majesty.

The only powers, therefore, which circumstances have permitted Mr. Adams to announce, are those which authorize him to take a part in the negotiations for peace. The two other powers will have no value until the conclusion of that peace; so that it would be at least useless to produce them at present, and, consequently, Mr. Adams will not act inconsistently with the design and nature of his powers, by concealing them from the Court of London. Although the Count de Vergennes is unacquainted with the tenor of the instructions of Mr. Adams, yet he is persuaded that they are conformable to the foregoing reflections, and that they do not direct him to make an immediate communication of his powers relative to a treaty of commerce, any more than they order him to make a separate peace with Great Britain. This opinion is founded on that which the King’s ministry entertain of the wisdom, prudence, and fidelity of congress.

III. It has been observed, that the English ministry would consider that communication as a mockery; hence it is voluntarily seeking to blind one’s self to suppose, that it will engage them to enter into any conference, or to say any thing more than what is contained in the resolutions of parliament, Edition: current; Page: [238] namely,—that they will listen to the Americans and receive them into favor, when they shall have returned to their former allegiance. Therefore, it would be at least superfluous to draw upon one’s self such an answer, nor can the United States need it, to know the present sentiments of the Court of London, still less, to prepare themselves by counsels and armies to resist it. It is astonishing to talk of preparations of counsels and armies, when the war is raging in all its fury, when it has now lasted six years, and England has not yet made the smallest overture to the Americans, that can authorize them to believe that she would agree to their independence.

IV. The English ministry would either return no answer, or if they did, it would be an insolent one. In case of the latter, why needlessly expose one’s self to insult, and thereby become the laughing-stock of all the nations who have not yet acknowledged the independence of the United States? But there is reason to believe that Mr. Adams would receive no answer, because the British ministry would not think one due to a man who assumes a character, which the Court of London must consider as an insult. It should not be forgotten, that that Court steadily considers the Americans as rebellious subjects. With such an opinion, how could Lord Germaine receive a letter from Mr. Adams, assuming the character of minister plenipotentiary from the United States of North America? How could that minister bear the mention of a treaty of commerce, which can only take place between independent nations? These observations will convince Mr. Adams, that France has no occasion for the expedient which he proposes, to know and to appreciate the sentiments and dispositions of the Court of London, and that we are already perfectly acquainted with what we ought and may expect from it, in the present situation of affairs.

V. The silence or the answer of the English ministry, whichever it might be, will neither alarm nor arouse the people of England. That people, without doubt, desire peace and an accommodation with America. But we have heard as yet only some individuals speak of independence, and these, more from a spirit of contradiction, than from conviction. There never has been a single motion made in parliament tending to grant that independence. Yet the people have friends and protectors in parliament. From this, Mr. Adams may judge of the embarrassment Edition: current; Page: [239] into which the announcing of his powers might throw the ministry.

VI. England, as well as the rest of Europe, is perfectly acquainted with the nature of the engagements, which subsist between France and the United States. The King caused a declaration to be made officially, on the 13th of March, 1778, that he had not secured to himself any exclusive privilege by the treaty of commerce of the 6th of February of the same year, and his Majesty has confirmed that declaration in a writing published by his order. So that the full powers of Mr. Adams will disclose nothing new in this respect, either to England or to the other powers of Europe. Hence the false impression which he thinks the Court of London has in this matter can be no obstacle to a peace. If any such obstacle existed, the English ministry would themselves seek to remove it, if they were determined to make the peace depend thereon.

VII. It is certain that the whole English nation, and even the ministers themselves, wish for peace. But it has already been observed, that there has not been a single motion made in favor of the independence of America. Certainly the full powers of Mr. Adams will not change the present dispositions in that respect, and, consequently, the communication that might be made of them will neither facilitate nor accelerate the conclusion of peace.

VIII. This reflection is very wise. It proves that Mr. Adams himself feels that there are circumstances which place him under a necessity to conceal his powers. The King’s ministry think that such circumstances will continue till the English nation shall show a disposition to acknowledge the independence of the United States. That acknowledgment will not be facilitated by proposing a treaty of commerce. For the English are well persuaded that from this time forward they will have such a treaty with America whenever they shall judge convenient. They have besides, as Mr. Adams has himself mentioned in his letter of the 19th of February last, a full knowledge of his commission, so that the communication of his full powers will teach them nothing new in this respect.

IX. This paragraph has just been answered. There is not an Englishman who is not persuaded that the United States are disposed to grant the advantages of commerce to their Edition: current; Page: [240] ancient metropolis; but to persuade not merely an Englishman, but any thinking being, that by granting independence in exchange for these advantages, the Court of London were making an honorable and advantageous peace, would be a hard task to perform. If this was the real sentiment of the people of England, why have they for these six years past, without murmuring, furnished ruinous contributions in order to subdue America?

X. The English ministry either have sincere intentions of making peace, or they mean only to amuse and penetrate the designs of Spain. In the first case, they will express the conditions on which they desire to treat; they will then be obliged to explain their views and their demands with regard to America. They will assuredly forget nothing which they think will forward peace, and, once agreed upon independence, their first care will be, without doubt, to be placed on an equality with France in regard to commerce. On the contrary, if the English ministry mean only to amuse Spain, to penetrate her designs, and to slacken her preparations for war, Mr. Adams should do the ministry of Madrid the justice to believe that they have sagacity enough to discover all these views, and understanding and prudence sufficient to determine on the conduct they ought to pursue.

XI. If Mr. Adams is as sure as he is of his existence, that the English ministry have no desire to make peace on terms equally agreeable to France and America, to what purpose now communicate to them powers which cannot be made use of until after the peace? How can Mr. Adams persuade himself that the Court of London will be seduced by the bait of a treaty of commerce, while it still manifests an invincible repugnance to acknowledge the independence of America? Whenever it shall be disposed to acknowledge that independence, it will of itself propose the conditions on which it will deem it proper to grant it, and Mr. Adams may rest assured that it will not forget the article of commerce. Then will be the proper time for him to produce his full powers. In the mean time, it is necessary to labor for the establishment of the foundation of the negotiation, namely,—the independence of America,—and that can only be effected by carrying on the war with vigor and success.

Edition: current; Page: [241]
John Adams
Adams, John
27 July, 1780
Paris
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count

TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Sir,

Since my letter of the 21st, and upon reading over again your Excellency’s letter to me of the 20th, I observed one expression, which I think it my duty to consider more particularly. The expression I have in view, is this, “that the King, without having been solicited by the congress, had taken measures the most efficacious to sustain the American cause.”

Upon this part of your letter, I must entreat your Excellency to recollect, that the congress did as long ago as the year 1776, before Dr. Franklin was sent off for France, instruct him, Mr. Deane, and Mr. Lee, to solicit the King for six ships of the line, and, I have reason to believe that the congress have been, from that moment to this, persuaded that this object has been constantly solicited by their ministers at this court.

In addition to this, I have every personal, as well as public motive to recall to your Excellency’s recollection a letter or memorial, which was presented to your Excellency in the latter end of the month of December, 1778, or the beginning of January, 1779,1 in which a great variety of arguments were adduced to show that it was not only good policy, but absolutely necessary, to send a superiority of naval force to the coasts of the Continent of America. This letter, together with your Excellency’s answer, acknowledging the receipt of it, I transmitted to congress myself, and their journals show that they received them near a year ago; so that congress, I am persuaded, rest in the most perfect security in the persuasion, that every thing has been done by themselves and their servants at this court, to obtain this measure, and that the necessary arrangements of the King’s naval service have hitherto prevented it.

But if it was only suspected by congress, that a direct application from them to the King was expected, I am well assured they would not hesitate a moment to make it. But I am so convinced by experience, of the absolute necessity of more consultations and communications between his Majesty’s ministers and the ministers of congress, that I am determined to omit no opportunity Edition: current; Page: [242] of communicating my sentiments to your Excellency, upon every thing that appears to me of importance to the common cause, in which I can do it with any propriety. And these communications shall be direct in person, or by letter to your Excellency, without the intervention of any third person. And I shall be very happy, and think myself highly honored, to give my poor opinion and advice to his Majesty’s ministers upon any thing that relates to the United States, or the common cause, whenever they shall be asked.

I wish I may be mistaken, but it could answer no good purpose to deceive myself; and I certainly will not disguise my sentiments from your Excellency. I think that Admiral Graves, with the ships before in America, will be able to impede the operations of M. de Ternay, of M. de Rochambeau, and of General Washington, if their plan is to attack New York.

If there should be a naval battle between M. de Ternay and Admiral Graves, the event is uncertain. From the near equality of force, and the equality of bravery and of naval science, which now prevails everywhere, I think we cannot depend upon any thing decisive in such an engagement, unless it be from the particular character of Graves, whom I know personally to be neither a great man, nor a great officer. If there should be no decision in a naval battle, Graves and his fleet must lay at New York, and M. de Ternay and his, at Rhode Island. I readily agree, that this will be a great advantage to the common cause, for the reasons mentioned in my letter to your Excellency, of the 13th of this month. But still I beg leave to suggest to your Excellency, whether it would not be for the good of the common cause to have still further resources in view; whether circumstances may not be such in the West Indies, as to enable M. de Guichen to despatch ships to the reinforcement of M. de Ternay, and whether it may not consist with the King’s service to despatch ships from Europe for that purpose; and, further, whether the Court of Spain cannot be convinced of the policy of keeping open the communication between the United States and the French and Spanish Islands in the West Indies, so as to cooperate with France and the United States in the system of keeping up a constant superiority of naval power, both upon the coast of North America, and in the West India Islands. This is the true plan which is finally to humble the English, and give the combined powers the advantage.

Edition: current; Page: [243]

The English, in the course of the last war, derived all their triumphs, both upon the continent of America and the islands, from the succors they received from their colonies. And I am sure that France and Spain, with attention to the subject, may receive assistance in this war, from the same source, equally decisive.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Count De Vergennes
De Vergennes, Count
29 July, 1780
Versailles
John Adams
Adams, John

COUNT DE VERGENNES TO JOHN ADAMS.
(Translation.)

Sir,

I have received the letter which you did me the honor to write me on the 27th of this month. When I took upon myself to give you a mark of my confidence, by informing you of the destination of MM. de Ternay and Rochambeau, I did not expect the animadversion which you have thought it your duty to make on a passage of my letter of the 20th of this month. To avoid any more of the kind, I think it my duty to inform you that, Mr. Franklin being the sole person who has letters of credence to the King from the United States, it is with him only that I ought and can treat of matters which concern them, and particularly of that which is the subject of your observations.

For the rest, sir, I ought to observe to you, that the passage in my letter on which you have thought it your duty to extend your reflections related only to sending the fleet commanded by the Chevalier de Ternay, and had nothing further in view than to convince you that the King did not stand in need of your solicitations to direct his attention to the interests of the United States.

I have the honor to be, &c.
De Vergennes.
Samuel Huntington
Huntington, Samuel
30 July, 1780
Philadelphia
John Adams
Adams, John

THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

Since your arrival in Europe I have been favored with your several despatches of the 11th and 16th of December last, the 16th of January, the 15th, 17th, 19th, 20th, 25th, 27th, and 29th of February, the 8th, 18th, 19th, and 23d of March.

It is probable the committee of foreign affairs may have acknowledged Edition: current; Page: [244] the receipt of these despatches, and several duplicates which have also been received.

I presume they have given you particular intelligence of all material occurrences in America since your departure, it being properly in their department, and a business which my present engagements will by no means admit me to undertake in so ample a manner as is necessary or would be agreeable to your wishes. Before this comes to hand, you will doubtless have received the disagreeable intelligence of the capitulation and surrender of Charleston, in which the brave General Lincoln with about two thousand continental troops, officers included, were made prisoners.

On the evening of the 10th instant, the French squadron, under the command of the Chevalier de Ternay, arrived off Newport. The Count de Rochambeau has since landed his troops on Conanicut. Three days after their arrival, Admiral Graves, with a British squadron, arrived at New York, and being joined by the ships there, soon put to sea; and we have just received advice, that Graves with his whole squadron, since their junction, is cruising off Newport. The exact number and strength of his squadron I cannot learn; but it is thought equal, if not superior to Ternay’s.

Without a decisive superiority of naval strength in these seas, we cannot expect to expel the enemy from New York this campaign, where we have been plagued with them long enough.

We have been waiting some time in anxious expectation of intelligence from the West Indies; but by the latest advices from thence nothing capital had been done as late as the 15th instant.

I have the pleasure to inform you that the State of Massachusetts have established their constitution; a desirable and important event.

I have the honor to be, &c.
Samuel Huntington.
John Adams
Adams, John
14 August, 1780
Amsterdam

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

On the 27th of July I set out from Paris on a journey to Amsterdam. I left Mr. Dana and Mr. Thaxter at Paris, who will regularly transmit to congress whatever shall occur of Edition: current; Page: [245] importance to the United States to know. They will also inclose all the English, French, and Dutch gazettes. They are exerting themselves in this republic to man their ships of war, in which they have great success, as they give very great premiums for seamen, as far as sixty ducats a man. The Russian men-of-war are arrived and anchored in sight of the Texel, and several of their officers have been ashore in this city. The plenipotentiaries are gone to Petersburg. Sweden and Denmark have adopted the declaration of Russia. It is whispered that the Dutch ministers to the congress at Petersburg are shackled with instructions to insist on a warranty of their possessions in the East and West Indies, previous to their acceding to the confederation of the maritime powers; but this instruction produced a protest of the city of Amsterdam, with such reasons against it, that it is thought the opposite party will not venture to take upon themselves the consequences of a refusal to join in the confederation; so that it is expected the treaty will take place.

It is universally considered as a great misfortune to us, by all whom I converse with here, that Mr. Laurens is not arrived. Some prudent person, authorized by congress, is earnestly desired here. He would not be publicly received, at least until the States shall take a decided part with the other maritime powers against England; this case, however, may soon happen. But there is not in Europe a better station to collect intelligence from France, Spain, England, Germany, and all the northern parts, nor a better situation from whence to circulate intelligence through all parts of Europe, than this. And it may be depended on, that our cause has never suffered from any thing more than from the failure of giving and receiving intelligence. A minister here from congress would be considered as the centre of communication between America and this and many other parts of Europe; and I have, since my arrival here, been more convinced than ever that congress might open a considerable loan here, and be supplied from hence with stores and with clothing, and at the same time be gradually extending the commerce between this country and America, to the great advantage of both. I have had a great deal of conversation upon the subject of a loan, and shall have more. I am sure that a loan might be obtained by any one, with powers from congress. But Edition: current; Page: [246] there are no powers as yet arrived in Europe that will ever succeed here.

We are still in daily hope and expectation that Mr. Laurens will arrive; but should he decline to come, or in case any accident has befallen him, I most earnestly recommend to congress the appointment of some other gentleman, with a proper commission, with full powers, and especially to borrow money and to sign proper promissory notes for the payment of it.

The King of Sweden is at Spa, from whence in the letter of the 30th of July the public are informed that his Majesty, the first who, during the present maritime war, has given validity to the rights of neuters, by means of the declaration which he caused to be made the last year to the belligerent powers, and by means of the protection which he granted from that time to the commerce and the navigation of his subjects, in sending out from his ports a numerous squadron, has manifested the consistency of his sentiments and disposition in this respect by a new declaration lately made to the Courts of Madrid, Versailles, and London, an authentic copy of which here follows.1

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
David Hartley
Hartley, David
14 August, 1780
London
John Adams
Adams, John

DAVID HARTLEY TO JOHN ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

I take the liberty to introduce to your acquaintance my friend and relation, Mr. Samuel Hartley. Some business carries him to Paris, and he is desirous of that opportunity of being made known to you. Give me leave at the same time to tell you, on my own account, that I wish not to lose any occasion of expressing my personal respects to you. I heartily wish, likewise, that any fortunate events might bring us together in the negotiation of public and universal peace. All my political thoughts and views are comprised in that one word,—peace. I understand that it is the object of your appointment, and a most honorable one it is. I heartily wish success to it, and, in my limited situation, I should be happy to assist and to concur in that end. War cannot last forever. I will not therefore Edition: current; Page: [247] despair. Let peace and friendship return hand in hand together.

I am, dear sir, &c.
David Hartley.
John Adams
Adams, John
17 August, 1780
Amsterdam
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin

TO BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.

Sir,

I was never more amused with political speculations, than since my arrival in this country. Every one has his prophecy, and every prophecy is a paradox. One says, America will give France the go-by. Another, that France and Spain will abandon America. A third, that Spain will forsake France and America. A fourth, that America has the interest of all Europe against her. A fifth, that she will become the greatest manufacturing country, and thus ruin Europe. A sixth, that she will become a great military and naval power, and will be very ambitious, and so terrible to Europe. In short, it seems as if they had studied for every impossibility, and agreed to foretell it, as a probable future event.

I tell the first, that if the King of France would release America from her treaty, and England would agree to our independence, on condition we would make an alliance offensive and defensive with her, America ought not to accept it, and would not, because she will in future have no security for peace, even with England, but in her treaty with France. I ask the second, whether he thinks the connection of America of so little consequence to France and Spain, that they would lightly give it up. I ask the third, whether the family compact added to the connection with America, is a trifling consideration to Spain. To the fifth I say, that America will not make manufactures enough for her own consumption these thousand years. And, to the sixth, that we love peace and hate war so much, that we can scarcely keep up an army necessary to defend ourselves against the greatest of evils, and to secure our independence, which is the greatest of blessings; and, therefore, while we have land enough to conquer from the trees and rocks and wild beasts, we shall never go abroad to trouble other nations.

To the fourth I say, that their paradox is like several others,—namely, that Bacchus and Ceres did mischief to mankind, when they invented wine and bread; that arts, sciences, and civilization Edition: current; Page: [248] have been general calamities, &c.—that upon their supposition, all Europe ought to agree to bring away the inhabitants of America, and divide them among the nations of Europe, to be maintained as paupers, leaving America to be overgrown again with trees and bushes, and to become again the habitations of bears and Indians, forbidding all navigation to that quarter of the world in future;—that mankind in general, however, are probably of a different opinion, believing that Columbus, as well as Bacchus and Ceres, did a service to mankind, and that Europe and America will be rich blessings to each other, the one supplying a surplus of manufactures, and the other a surplus of raw materials, the productions of agriculture.

It is very plain, however, that speculation and disputation can do us little service. No facts are believed, but decisive military conquests; no arguments are seriously attended to in Europe, but force. It is to be hoped, our countrymen, instead of amusing themselves any longer with delusive dreams of peace, will bend the whole force of their minds to augment their navy, to find out their own strength and resources, and to depend upon themselves.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
5 September, 1780
Amsterdam
John Luzac
Luzac, John

TO JOHN LUZAC.1

Sir,

Inclosed is an abridgment of a pamphlet published in London last winter.2 I beg your attentive perusal of it, and your candid opinion, whether it would be of service to our cause, which is the cause of mankind, and especially of Europe, to publish it, and in what manner. You will please to return it to me, if you do not make any use of it, because there is not in the world another copy.

Edition: current; Page: [249]

It is an abridgment of a real pamphlet. This you may depend on.

Yours respectfully,
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
5 September, 1780
Amsterdam

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

As eloquence is cultivated with more care in free republics than in other governments, it has been found by constant experience that such republics have produced the greatest purity, copiousness, and perfection of language. It is not to be disputed that the form of government has an influence upon language, and language in its turn influences not only the form of government, but the temper, the sentiments, and manners of the people. The admirable models which have been transmitted through the world, and continued down to these days, so as to form an essential part of the education of mankind from generation to generation, by those two ancient towns, Athens and Rome, would be sufficient, without any other argument, to show the United States the importance to their liberty, prosperity, and glory, of an early attention to the subject of eloquence and language.

Most of the nations of Europe have thought it necessary to establish by public authority institutions for fixing and improving their proper languages. I need not mention the academies in France, Spain, and Italy, their learned labors, nor their great success. But it is very remarkable, that although many learned and ingenious men in England have from age to age projected similar institutions for correcting and improving the English tongue, yet the government have never found time to interpose in any manner; so that to this day there is no grammar nor dictionary extant of the English language which has the least public authority; and it is only very lately, that a tolerable dictionary has been published, even by a private person, and there is not yet a passable grammar enterprised by any individual.

The honor of forming the first public institution for refining, correcting, improving, and ascertaining the English language, I hope is reserved for congress; they have every motive that can possibly influence a public assembly to undertake it. It will have a happy effect upon the union of the States to have a public Edition: current; Page: [250] standard for all persons in every part of the continent to appeal to, both for the signification and pronunciation of the language. The constitutions of all the States in the Union are so democratical that eloquence will become the instrument for recommending men to their fellow-citizens, and the principal means of advancement through the various ranks and offices of society.

In the last century Latin, was the universal language of Europe. Correspondence among the learned, and indeed among merchants and men of business, and the conversation of strangers and travellers, was generally carried on in that dead language. In the present century, Latin has been generally laid aside, and French has been substituted in its place, but has not yet become universally established, and, according to present appearances, it is not probable that it will. English is destined to be in the next and succeeding centuries more generally the language of the world than Latin was in the last or French is in the present age. The reason of this is obvious, because the increasing population in America, and their universal connection and correspondence with all nations will, aided by the influence of England in the world, whether great or small, force their language into general use, in spite of all the obstacles that may be thrown in their way, if any such there should be.

It is not necessary to enlarge further, to show the motives which the people of America have to turn their thoughts early to this subject; they will naturally occur to congress in a much greater detail than I have time to hint at. I would therefore submit to the consideration of congress the expediency and policy of erecting by their authority a society under the name of “the American Academy for refining, improving, and ascertaining the English Language.” The authority of congress is necessary to give such a society reputation, influence, and authority through all the States and with other nations. The number of members of which it shall consist, the manner of appointing those members, whether each State shall have a certain number of members and the power of appointing them, or whether congress shall appoint them, whether after the first appointment the society itself shall fill up vacancies, these and other questions will easily be determined by congress.

It will be necessary that the society should have a library consisting Edition: current; Page: [251] of a complete collection of all writings concerning languages of every sort, ancient and modern. They must have some officers and some other expenses which will make some small funds indispensably necessary. Upon a recommendation from congress, there is no doubt but the legislature of every State in the confederation would readily pass a law making such a society a body politic, enable it to sue and be sued, and to hold an estate, real or personal, of a limited value in that State. I have the honor to submit these hints to the consideration of congress, and to be, &c.

John Adams.
Francis Dana
Dana, Francis
8 September, 1780
Paris
John Adams
Adams, John

FRANCIS DANA TO JOHN ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

I had the pleasure of yours of the 30th of last month, on the 4th instant; but my eyes being again in a bad state, and being otherwise unwell, I desired Mr. Thaxter to acknowledge the receipt of it. My first misfortune I have not yet entirely recovered from, nor do I expect to till I shall be able wholly to lay aside both the book and the pen, for a considerable length of time. I had begun upon the business you mentioned some time before your departure, and had made a considerable progress in it, but my eyes have obliged me to stop short of my purpose. This misfortune (without a pun) frequently casts a gloomy shade over my future prospects. ’Tis really the source of much melancholy contemplation, but I will trouble you no more with it.

Mr. Thaxter communicated to you all our intelligence of a public nature; but as this letter will be handed to you by Mr. Austin, who sets off to-morrow evening for Amsterdam, I shall communicate some other parts of Mr.—’s letter to me.

“You doubtless know, that Mr. Cumberland, one of Lord George Germaine’s secretaries, has been here some time. His mission, as well as admission, has given cause to many conjectures. I am not apprehensive that Spain will make a separate peace; but I by no means think it prudent to receive the spies of Britain into their capital, and even into their palaces. There are a great many wheels in our business, and the machine won’t work easily, unless the great wheel be turned by the waters of Edition: current; Page: [252] the Mississippi, which I neither believe, nor wish, will be the case. Success in America would give it motion.”

“My adventurers” (you will understand him here) “are in a most perilous suspense; God grant them a happy deliverance.”

You will want no comments upon these texts. I shall only say, Spain having secured to herself a free commerce with America, hath now nothing to ask of her. Behold the effects of precipitate concession! If a young politician of a young country might presume to give his opinion upon matters of such high importance, he would say, that should America, in the end, feel herself constrained to comply with the claims of Spain, that alone would be the cause of bringing on the extinction of the Spanish dominion, on the east of the great river. As a Spaniard, therefore, he would think it unsafe and highly impolitic to urge the claim, or even to accept of the exclusive right. It is to be hoped, that the late important success of the combined fleets on the commerce of Britain will not only teach them that similar ones are easily to be obtained, but that they are also among the most eligible, as they most effectually distress and disable the common enemy. Such, however, is the force of habit, that he who should urge such policy might be told, you are but of yesterday, and know nothing.

I am happy to learn you spent your time so agreeably in Amsterdam, and find so much good-will to our cause and country; and I lament with you, that our worthy friend has not arrived there. Ministers at the courts you mention would doubtless render the councils and influence of our country more extensive and more independent, but these are things rather to be wished for, than expected.

I am glad to hear you have my form of our constitution; when you have done with it, please to forward it by the first private hand. I have a letter from that worthy character, Judge Sargeant; among other things, he says,—“In the course of our travelling, we have the pleasure to find a remarkable candor in the people with respect to the new form of government, excepting the third article about religion. There will be, as far as we can learn, almost an unanimous vote in favor of it, and more than two thirds in favor of that. This appears to be the case at the northward and southward, and in the middle counties where we have been; and the eastward counties were always in that disposition.” Edition: current; Page: [253] Thus, sir, I hope we shall have cause to rejoice in the candor and good sense of our countrymen, and in seeing them happy under a generous and free form of government.

I am, dear sir,
Francis Dana.
John Adams
Adams, John
12 September, 1780
Amsterdam
David Hartley
Hartley, David

TO DAVID HARTLEY.

Sir,

I am obliged to you for a letter of the 14th of August which was this day delivered me by your friend.

You was not misinformed when you heard that the object of my appointment was peace. Nor do I differ from your opinion, that this appointment was honorable, although I see no prospect at all of ever acting in virtue of it. War will not last forever, it is true; but it will probably last long enough to wear you and me out, and to make room for our sons or grandsons to become the blessed peacemakers.

Peace will never come but in company with faith and honor;1 and when these can be allowed to live together, let friendship join the amiable and venerable choir. Peace seems to be flying away. The new parliament will drive her to the distance of seven years at least, and every year of the continuance of war will add some new humiliation to the demands upon a certain country. So the fates have ordained, and we mortals must submit.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Luzac
Luzac, John
14 Septembre, 1780
Leide
John Adams
Adams, John

JOHN LUZAC TO JOHN ADAMS.

Monsieur,

Je viens d’achever la lecture de la brochure, au sujet de laquelle vous avez bien voulu demander mon avis. La Edition: current; Page: [254] partie du style est excellente. Il me paroit seulement, que dans les huit ou dix premiers feuillets il y a des fautes de langage, faciles à corriger, mais néanmoins trop remarquables. Quant aux choses, elle est fortement pensée; et quoiqu’ne brillante imagination puisse avoir porté l’auteur à orner peut-être un peu trop le tableau des effets de la révolution Americaine, je suis convaincu pourtant, que le fond de ses idées est très vrai, et que ses principes ne méritent pas moins l’attention des philanthropes que ses vues sur l’avenir. Ainsi je pense qu’elle mérite à tous égards d’être rendue publique par l’impression, et que cette publication ne peut qu’inspirer des sentimens favorables aux intérêts de l’Amérique.

Je ne saurois néanmoins vous dissimuler un petit scrupule que j’ai à ce sujet. L’auteur trace avec un pinceau vigoureux la révolution que l’indépendance de l’Amérique opérera dans le système commercial de l’Europe. Mais en faisant ce tableau il peint la Russie dépouillée de son commerce exclusif du bois de construction, et des autres munitions navales; la Suéde de celui du fer; la Hollande de son cabotage et de son monopole d’épiceries, etc. Je crains que cette perspective n’effarouche les esprits. L’auteur tâche ensuite, il est vrai, de prouver que cette concurrence, cette liberté générale, cette réduction de toutes les nations à un niveau commun, seroient un bien; que la possession de colonies lointaines est un mal; que l’avantage d’un commerce exclusif n’est qu’un préjugé, etc. Mais, monsieur, ces préjugés sont trop profondément enracinés pour qu’ils n’opèrent pas encore en ce moment, Moi-même, en plaidant la cause de l’Amérique, et en soutenant que l’Europe étoit interessée à son indépendance, j’ai vingt fois rencontré cette objection de la part de personnes sensées et instruites. “Oui, mais si l’Amérique devient libre, elle fera un jour la loi à l’Europe. Elle nous enlèvera nos îles, et nos colonies de la Guyane; elle s’emparera de toutes les Antilles; elle engloutira le Mexique, le Pérou même, le Chili et le Brésil; elle nous enlèvera notre commerce de fret; elle payera ses bienfaiteurs d’ingratitude etc.” J’y ai toujours répondu dans les mêmes principes que notre auteur; mais je n’en suis pas moins resté persuadé, que cette jalousie influe ici sur beaucoup d’esprits; et quiconque connoît the selfishness, qui malheureusement ne fait que trop la base de la politique, pourra craindre, qu’elle n’ait aussi son effet chez les puissances du nord.

Edition: current; Page: [255]

Il seroit néanmoins dommage qu’on touchât à la brochure en la châtrant; mais il me semble, qu’on pourroit dans une préface jeter un voile sur ces vérités trop nues et dont certains yeux pourroient s’offenser. Si vous le souhaitez, monsieur, je me chargerai bien volontiers du poste d’éditeur; et je trouverai aisément un libraire. Mais dans ce cas, s’il se pouvoit, je serois charmé d’avoir aussi entre les mains la brochure originale.

Je demande pardon de ne vous pas renvoyer encore les Gazettes de Pensylvanie. Il nous en est venu quelques autres d’un autre côté; et comme notre feuille ne peut tout contenir à la fois, je me propose d’en faire successivement usage d’une maniére, qui, à ce que je me flatte, ne vous sera pas désagréable. Vous en verrez quelques échantillons dans les feuilles ci-jointes, ainsi que le commencement de la traduction de l’adresse de la convention de Massachusetts Bay.

Je vous prie, &c. &c.
J. Luzac.
John Adams
Adams, John
15 September, 1780
Amsterdam
John Luzac
Luzac, John

TO JOHN LUZAC.

Sir,

I have just now received yours of the 14th, and I wish I had time to write you a sheet or two on the subject of it. I am very glad to find you will undertake to be the editor; and I beg the favor of you to place such a preface as you like, and to correct the language whenever it has occasion. I hope to see it public as soon as possible.

I have met often in Europe with the same species of reasoners that you describe; but I find they are not numerous. Among men of reflection the sentiment is generally different, and that no power in Europe has any thing to fear from America. The principal interest of America for many centuries to come will be landed, and her chief occupation agriculture. Manufactures and commerce will be but secondary objects, and always subservient to the other. America will be the country to produce raw materials for manufactures; but Europe will be the country of manufactures, and the commerce of America can never increase but in a certain proportion to the growth of its agriculture, until its whole territory of land is filled up with inhabitants, which will not be in some hundreds of years.

Edition: current; Page: [256]

Russia and the northern powers are too well informed to fear that America will interfere with them in the articles of their commerce. America will demand of them in hemp, duck, cordage, sailcloth, linens, and other articles, more than they will ever interfere with them in the trade of tar, iron, and timber. In fact, the Atlantic is so long and difficult a navigation, that the Americans will never be able to afford to carry to the European market great quantities of these articles. They have other productions of greater profit in a smaller compass, in such numbers and variety, that they never can interfere with the northern powers. As to iron, we shall import it in bars from Sweden as we ever did. We used to import Swedish iron from England.

But, supposing we should interfere, should we interfere less under the government of England than under our own government?

I have not the original “Memorial to the sovereigns of Europe,” but I can get it from London.

The question to your antagonists should be, can Europe prevent the independence of America? If united, perhaps they might; but can they be united? If Europe cannot prevent, or rather, if any particular nations of Europe cannot prevent the independence of America, then, the sooner her independence is acknowledged, the better; the less likely she will be to become warlike, enterprising, and ambitious. The truth is, however, that America can never unite in any war but a defensive one.

I have been much obliged to you for your favorable representation of the news from America and of our affairs in general.

And am, with great respect and esteem, &c. &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
16 September, 1780
Amsterdam

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I have the honor to send by this opportunity a few pamphlets and papers. The pamphlets relate to subjects which interest the United States, and therefore ought to be communicated to congress for their consideration.

The attention of mankind is now turned, next to the congress Edition: current; Page: [257] of America, upon that at Petersburg. The last letters from London say that they have information, that one of the first measures of this confederation will be an acknowledgment of American independence. Whether this is true or not, I am not able to say. The councils of the sovereigns of Europe are not easily penetrated; but it is our duty to attend to them, and throw into view such information as may be in our power, that they may take no measures inconsistent with their and our interests for want of light, a misfortune that may easily happen. In this view, I could wish that the United States had a minister at each of the maritime courts,—I mean Holland, Russia, Sweden, and Denmark,—and, as the Cabinet of Berlin has much influence in the politics of Europe, Prussia. I say this upon supposition that congress can devise means of defraying the expense, which to be sure amounts to a large sum.

I have heard that Mr. Searle has arrived at Brest, but am not informed of his destination, nor whether he has despatches for me. I am anxious to learn from congress what their intentions may be respecting me. I have as yet received no authority to draw upon any fund whatsoever for my subsistence, nor to borrow money for that or any other purpose. I see no prospect of my commission being of any utility. Although many persons here think that peace will be made in the course of the ensuing winter or spring, yet I must confess I am of a different opinion. The idea, that France will dictate the conditions of peace, if it is made now, cannot be borne by Englishmen as yet; they are not yet sufficiently humbled, although probably every year will add some fresh humiliation to the demands upon their country. The English privateers have taken some Russian vessels loaded with hemp and iron, which must bring the question to a legal decision. The admiralty will probably discharge them, and the ministry will give up the point of free ships free goods, provided the Dutch agree with the northern powers; for they will not venture upon a war with all the world at once. Besides the military force, which they could not stand against, they would not be able to obtain any stores for their navy.

But the great question now is, whether the Dutch will agree. Their deputies are instructed to insist upon a warranty of their East and West India dominions. Whether the northern powers will agree to this condition, is a question. The states-general, Edition: current; Page: [258] however, are sitting, and will wait for despatches from Petersburg, and will probably be much governed by events. What events have happened in the West Indies and North America we shall soon learn.

Digby has sailed with a part of Geary’s late fleet, whether for another expedition to Gibraltar, or whether for the West Indies or North America, is unknown. The success of these operations will probably influence much the deliberations both at Petersburg and the Hague. This, time only can discover. It is said, however, that M. Le Texier will be exempted by the States-general from the payment of duties upon his masts, hemp, iron, and other naval stores that he is sending over land to the French marine. The capture of fifty-five ships at once, so much wealth, so many seamen and soldiers, and such quantities of stores, is a severe stroke to the English, and cannot but have the most excellent effects for us, both in the West Indies and North America. The right vein is now opened, and I hope that the Courts of France and Spain will now be in earnest in convoying their own commerce, and cruising for that of their enemies. This is a short, easy, and infallible method of humbling the English, preventing the effusion of an ocean of blood, and bringing the war to a conclusion. In this policy, I hope our countrymen will join, with the utmost alacrity. Privateering is as well understood by them as by any people whatsoever; and it is by cutting off supplies, not by attacks, sieges, or assaults, that I expect deliverance from our enemies. And I should be wanting in my duty, if I did not warn them against any relaxation of their exertions, by sea or land, from a fond expectation of peace. They will deceive themselves, if they depend upon it. Never, never will the English make peace, while they have an army in North America.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
19 September, 1780
Amsterdam

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

The day before yesterday Mr. Dana arrived here from Paris with the despatches which came by Mr. Searle.

I am very sensible of the honor that is done me by this appointment,1 Edition: current; Page: [259] and yesterday morning I set myself seriously about discharging the duties of it; and this day I have been some leagues into the country upon the same service. There are good reasons for concealing the names of the gentlemen to whom I have applied for advice and assistance, but they are such as congress, I think, would have approved, if they had themselves been here.

I was told very candidly that I might possibly be much mis, taken in my information; that possibly I might think that money was more plenty here than it is, that America had more friends than she has, and that the difficulty of negotiating a loan here was less than it is; that it was mysterious that congress should empower any gentleman to negotiate a loan, without, at the same time, empowering the same or some other to negotiate a political treaty of alliance and commerce, consistent with the treaties already made with other powers; that a minister plenipotentiary here would be advised to apply directly to the prince and the states-general; that he would not be affronted or ill-treated by either, and, whether received publicly or not, would be courted by many respectable individuals, and would greatly facilitate a loan.

I was, however, encouraged to hope that I might have some small success, and was advised to a particular course in order to obtain it, that cannot as yet be communicated. I must, however, apprize congress that there are many delicate questions which it becomes my duty to determine in a short time, and perhaps none of more difficulty than what house shall be applied to or employed. I have no affections or aversions to influence me in the choice; and shall not depend upon my own judgment alone, without the advice of such persons as congress will one day know to be respectable. But offence will probably be taken, let the choice fall upon whom it may, by several other houses that have pretensions and undoubted merit. As this may occasion censure and complaints, I only ask of congress not to judge of those complaints without hearing my reasons, and this request, I presume, I need not make. I have only to add, that the moment Mr. Laurens shall arrive, or any other gentleman vested with the same commission, I will render him every service in my Edition: current; Page: [260] power, and communicate to him every information I may possess.

But I ought not to conclude without giving my opinion, that it is absolutely necessary that Mr. Laurens, or whoever comes in his place, should have a commission of minister-plenipotentiary. If that gentleman was now here with such a commission, it would have more influence than perhaps anybody in America can imagine upon the conduct of this republic, upon the congress at Petersburg, and upon the success of Mr. Jay at Madrid.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.1
Hendrik Van Blomberg
Van Blomberg, Hendrik
22 September, 1780
M. Van Vollenhoven
Van Vollenhoven, M.

TO M. VAN VOLLENHOVEN.

A stranger having particular occasion to speak with the broker who, some time since, negotiated in this city a loan of money for the city of Dantzic, begs the favor of M. Van Vollenhoven to communicate his name and place of abode, in writing, to the bearer.

(Reply on a Slip of Paper.)

Hendrik Van Blomberg, op de blomgragt.
Edition: current; Page: [261]
M. Van Blomberg
Van Blomberg, M.
25 September, 1780
Amsterdam

FROM M. VAN BLOMBERG.

Sir,

Messrs. Van Vollenhoven, notwithstanding all the credit they have for the United States of North America, cannot accept of the commission which you have done them the honor to propose, for reasons that their branch of commerce being fixed to the Baltic, they cannot well extend it so far as North America.

I have the honor to be, &c.
H. V. Blomberg.
M. Van Blomberg
Van Blomberg, M.
26 September, 1780
Amsterdam

FROM M. VAN BLOMBERG.

Sir,

I waited yesterday for a second time on Messrs. Van Vollenhoven, after the receipt of your favor. The affair in question is too extended to decide by letters, for which reason I beg the favor of you to do me the honor to call on me this evening at six o’clock, when I shall have a person with me, with whom we can speak in confidence.

I am, with great regard, sir, &c.
H. V. Blomberg.
M. Mylius
Mylius, M.
29 September, 1780
Amsterdam

FROM M. MYLIUS.

M. Mylius’s compliments to the Honorable Mr. Adams. Whereas M. Van Blomberg is out of the city and doth not return before Monday next, and hath ordered his clerk to bring any word which might come from you, sir, to me, so I did take the liberty to open your billet for M. Van Blomberg, and saw thereby that you desired another evening’s conversation in company only with me, for which honor I am much obliged to you; whereupon, I can say that I think it will be next Tuesday evening, the time nearer to be appointed.

Edition: current; Page: [262]
(Memorandum in the same Handwriting.)
When the loan is of three millions guilders, there is
The provision for negotiating the capital, 2 per cent.
For the undertakers to furnish the capital, 2 per cent.
Brokerage, ½ per cent.
Expenses of stamped paper for the bonds, printing, and proto collating the same, &c., ½ per cent.
5 per cent.

And for the yearly paying off of 10 per cent., as is stipulated, and which shall be prolonged or continued again for ten years,

For provision to the house of the loan, 1 per cent.
The undertakers, 1 per cent.
Brokerage, ¼ per cent.
2¼ per cent.

And in case there might be more negotiated than the prolongation of 10 per cent., then the expenses of that greater part are as above, 5 per cent.

Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
2 October, 1780
Passy
John Adams
Adams, John

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

By all our late advices from America, the hopes you expressed, that our countrymen, instead of amusing themselves any longer with delusive dreams of peace, would bend the whole force of their minds to find out their own strength and resources, and to depend upon themselves, are actually accomplished. All the accounts I have seen, agree that the spirit of our people was never higher than at present, nor their exertions more vigorous.

Inclosed I send you extracts of some letters from two French officers, a colonel and lieutenant-colonel in the army of M. de Rochambeau, which are the more pleasing, as they not only give a good character of our troops, but show the good understanding that subsists between them and those of our allies. I hope we shall soon hear of something decisive performed by their joint operations, for your observation is just, that speculations and disputations do us little service. Our credit and weight in Europe depend more on what we do than on what we say; and I have long been humiliated with the idea of our running about from court to court begging for money and friendship, which are the more withheld the more eagerly they are solicited, and would Edition: current; Page: [263] perhaps have been offered, if they had not been asked. The supposed necessity is our only excuse. The proverb says, “God helps them that help themselves,” and the world, too, in this sense, is very godly.

As the English papers have pretended to intelligence, that our troops disagree, perhaps it would not be amiss to get these extracts inserted in the Amsterdam Gazette.

With great respect, I have the honor to be, sir,

Your Excellency’s most obedient and most humble servant,
B. Franklin.
John Adams
Adams, John
4 October, 1780
Amsterdam
Monsieur Dumas
Dumas, Monsieur

TO M. DUMAS.

Sir,

I have just received your favor of the 3d, and thank you for the early information of the arrival of the courier from the plenipotentiaries of this republic at Petersburg. I hope that this republic will agree, without delay, to the armed neutrality; but I should be glad to see a copy of the despatches, if possible, or at least as exact an account of their substance as may be. I should be glad also to learn, whether the object of the congress is simply to form a plan for supporting each other and making a common cause in defence of those principles only which the three northern powers have already adopted, or whether they have in contemplation a more extensive regulation of maritime affairs.

I do not see how this congress can have a peace between the belligerent powers for its object, when the parties who compose it have already so positively declared for a neutrality. I wish with all my heart that another republic had a minister at the congress, or at least at the Court of Petersburg. Neither the cause nor the country of America are understood in any part of Europe, which gives opportunity to the English to represent things as they choose. Onesta è sempre la causa di colui che parla solo.

I do not expect peace so soon as next spring. And I should dread the interposition of the congress at Petersburg in the business. They understand not the subject. It is impossible they should. America is not represented there, and cannot be heard. If they should take into consideration the affair of peace. I should Edition: current; Page: [264] be apprehensive of some recommendations to save the pride, or what they would call the dignity of England, which would be more dangerous and pernicious to America than a continuance of the war. I do not dread a continuance of war; I should dread a truce ten times more.

If all the powers at the congress at Petersburg would agree together to acknowledge American independency, or agree to open a free commerce with America and admit her merchant ships and vessels of war into their ports, like those of the other belligerent powers, this I think would be just. Indeed, that perfect neutrality which they profess, requires it. Refusing admittance to the American flag while they admit that of England, is so far from a neutrality, that it is taking a decided part in favor of England and against one of the belligerent powers; a power, too, which in point of numbers, wealth, industry, capacity, military, and naval power, as well as commerce, is quite as respectable as several of those which are or will be represented in the congress at Petersburg.

I have the honor to be, &c. &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [265]

TWENTY-SIX LETTERS UPON INTERESTING SUBJECTS RESPECTING THE REVOLUTION OF AMERICA, WRITTEN IN HOLLAND, IN THE YEAR MDCCLXXX

The following is the account of the composition of these letters, as given by Mr. Adams.

“At dinner one day, with a large company, at the house of a great capitalist, I met the giant of the law in Amsterdam, Mr. Calkoen. He was very inquisitive concerning the affairs of America, and asked me many ingenious questions. But he had spent his life in such ardent study of his institutes, codes, novelles, and pandects, with his immensely voluminous comments upon them, that he had neglected entirely the English language, and was very inexpert in the French. Interpreters were, therefore, necessary; but conversation that requires interpreters on both sides, is a very dull amusement. Though his questions were always ready, and my answers not less so, yet the interpretation was very slow and confused. After some time, one of the gentlemen asked me if I had any objection to answering Mr. Calkoen’s questions in writing. I answered, none at all. It was soon agreed, that the questions and answers should be written. Accordingly, in a few days, Mr. Calkoen sent me his questions in Dutch, Mr. Le Roy, now of New York, was obliging enough to translate them for me into English, and I wrote an answer to each question in a separate letter. They gave so much satisfaction to Mr. Calkoen, that he composed, from the information contained in Edition: current; Page: [266] them, a comparison between the revolt of the low countries from Spain, and the Revolution of the United States of America, in which his conclusion was, that as it was a kind of miracle that the former succeeded, it would be a greater miracle still if the latter should not. This composition was read by him to a society of gentlemen of letters, about forty in number, who met at stated times in Amsterdam; and by that means, just sentiments of American affairs began to spread, and prevail over the continual misrepresentations of English and Stadtholderian gazettes, pamphlets, and newspapers.

“The publications of General Howe and General Burgoyne, in vindication of themselves, were procured to be translated into French, and propagated, together with many other pamphlets, which assisted in the same design, and contributed to excite the citizens to those applications, by petition to the regencies of the several cities, which finally procured the acknowledgment of American independency, the treaty of commerce, and a loan of money.”

These letters were collected and printed in London, in 1786, by Mr. Adams, but not published. They were reprinted in 1789, in New York, and published with the title here prefixed, by John Fenno, and they also make a part of the volume published in Boston, in 1809, under the title, Correspondence of the late President Adams.

John Adams
Adams, John
4 October, 1780
Amsterdam
Mr. Calkoen
Mr. Calkoen

TO MR. CALKOEN.

Sir,

You desire an exact and authentic information of the present situation of American affairs, with a previous concise account of their course before, during, and after the commencement of hostilities.

To give a stranger an adequate idea of the rise and progress of the dispute between Great Britain and America would require much time and many volumes; it comprises the history of England and the United States of America for twenty years; that of France and Spain for five or six; and that of all the maritime powers of Europe for two or three. Suffice it to say, that immediately upon the conquest of Canada from the French in the year 1759, Great Britain seemed to be seized with a jealousy against the Colonies, and then concerted the plan of changing their forms of government, of restraining their trade within narrower bounds, and raising a revenue within them by authority of parliament, for the avowed or pretended purpose of protecting, securing, and defending them. Accordingly, in the year 1760, Edition: current; Page: [267] orders were sent from the board of trade in England to the custom-house officers in America, to apply to the supreme courts of justice for writs of assistance to enable them to carry into a more rigorous execution certain acts of parliament called the acts of trade (among which the famous act of navigation was one, the fruit of the ancient English jealousy of Holland) by breaking open houses, ships, or cellars, chests, stores, and magazines, to search for uncustomed goods. In most of the Colonies these writs were refused. In the Massachusetts Bay the question, whether such writs were legal and constitutional, was solemnly and repeatedly argued before the supreme court by the most learned counsel in the Province.

The judges of this court held their commissions during the pleasure of the governor and council; and the chief justice dying at this time, the famous Mr. Hutchinson was appointed, probably with a view of deciding this cause in favor of the crown, which was accordingly done. But the arguments advanced upon that occasion by the bar and the bench, opened to the people such a view of the designs of the British government against their liberties and of the danger they were in, as made a deep impression upon the public, which never wore out.

From this moment, every measure of the British court and parliament and of the king’s governors and other servants confirmed the people in an opinion of a settled design to overturn those constitutions under which their ancestors had emigrated from the old world, and with infinite toil, danger, and expense, planted a new one. It would be endless to enumerate all the acts of parliament and measures of government; but, in 1764, Mr. George Grenville moved a number of resolutions in parliament, which passed, for laying a vast number of heavy duties upon stamped paper; and, in 1765, the act of parliament was made, called the stamp act. Upon this, there was a universal rising of the people in every Colony, compelling the stamp-officers by force to resign, and preventing the stamped papers from being used, and, indeed, compelling the courts of justice to proceed in business without them. My Lord Rockingham perceiving the impossibility of executing this statute, moved, by the help of Mr. Pitt, for the repeal of it, and obtained it, which restored peace, order, and harmony to America; which would have continued to this hour, if the evil genius of Great Britain Edition: current; Page: [268] had not prompted her to revive the resistance of the people by fresh attempts upon their liberties and new acts of parliament imposing taxes upon them.

In 1767 they passed another act of parliament laying duties upon glass, paper, and painters’ colors, and tea. This revived the discontents in America; but government sent over a board of commissioners to oversee the execution of this act of parliament and all others imposing duties, with a multitude of new officers for the same purpose; and, in 1768, for the first time, it sent four thousand regular troops to Boston, to protect the revenue officers in the collection of the duties.

Loth to commence hostilities, the people had recourse to nonimportation agreements and a variety of other measures, which, in 1770, induced parliament to repeal all the duties upon glass, paper, and painters’ colors, but left the duty upon tea unrepealed. This produced an association not to drink tea. In 1770, the animosity between the inhabitants of Boston and the king’s troops grew so high, that a party of the troops fired upon a crowd of people in the streets, killing five or six and wounding some others. This raised such a spirit among the inhabitants, that, in a body, they demanded the instant removal of the troops; which was done, the governor ordering them down to Castle Island, some miles from the town.

In 1773, the British government, determined to carry into execution the duty upon tea, empowered the East India Company to export it to America. They sent some cargoes to Boston, some to New York, some to Philadelphia, and some to Charleston. The inhabitants of New York and Philadelphia sent the ships back to London, and they sailed up the Thames, to proclaim to all the nation, that New York and Pennsylvania would not be enslaved. The inhabitants of Charleston unloaded it and stored it in cellars where it could not be used, and where it finally perished. The inhabitants of Boston tried every measure to send the ships back, like New York and Philadelphia; but not being permitted to pass the castle, the tea was all thrown into the sea.

This produced several vindictive acts of parliament,—one for starving the town of Boston by shutting up the port; another for abolishing the constitution of the Province by destroying their charter; another for sending persons to England to be tried for treason, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [269]

These acts produced the congress of 1774, who stated the rights and grievances of the Colonies, and petitioned for redress. Their petitions and remonstrances were all neglected, and treated with contempt. General Gage had been sent over with an army to enforce the Boston port bill and the act for destroying the charter. This army, on the 19th of April, 1775, commenced hostilities at Lexington, which have been continued to this day.

You see, sir, by this most imperfect and hasty sketch, that this war is already twenty years old. And I can truly say, that the people, through the whole course of this long period, have been growing constantly every year more and more unanimous and determined to resist the designs of Great Britain.

I should be ashamed to lay before a gentleman of Mr. Calkoen’s abilities so rude a sketch, if I had not an equal confidence in his candor and discretion, which will induce me, as I may have leisure, to continue to sketch a few observations upon your questions.

Your first proposition is, “to prove, by striking facts, that an implacable hatred and aversion reigns throughout America.”

In answer to this, I beg leave to say, that the Americans are animated by higher principles, and better and stronger motives, than hatred and aversion. They universally aspire after a free trade with all the commercial world, instead of that mean monopoly, in which they were shackled by Great Britain, to the disgrace and mortification of America, and to the injury of all the rest of Europe; to whom it seems as if God and nature intended that so great a magazine of productions, the raw materials of manufactures, so great a source of commerce, and so rich a nursery of seamen, as America is, should be open. They despise, sir, they disdain the idea of being again monopolized by any one nation whatsoever; and this contempt is at least as powerful a motive of action as any hatred whatsoever.

Moreover, sir, they consider themselves contending for the purest principles of liberty, civil and religious; for those forms of government, under the faith of which their country was planted; and for those great improvements of them, which Edition: current; Page: [270] have been made by their new constitutions. They consider themselves not only as contending for these great blessings, but against the greatest evils that any country ever suffered; for they know, if they were to be deceived by England, to break their union among themselves, and their faith with their allies, they would ever after be in the power of England, who would bring them into the most abject submission to the government of a parliament the most corrupted in the world, in which they would have no voice nor influence, at three thousand miles distance from them.

But if hatred must come into consideration, I know not how to prove their hatred better, than by showing the provocations they have had to hatred.

If tearing up from the foundation those forms of government under which they were born and educated, and thrived and prospered, to the infinite emolument of England; if imposing taxes upon them, or endeavoring to do it, for twenty years, without their consent; if commencing hostilities upon them, burning their towns, butchering their people, deliberately starving prisoners, ravishing their women, exciting hosts of Indians to butcher and scalp them, and purchasing Germans to destroy them, and hiring negro servants to murder their masters;—if all these, and many other things as bad, are not provocations enough to hatred, I would request Mr. Calkoen to tell me what is or can be. All these horrors the English have practised in every part of America, from Boston to Savannah.

2. Your second proposition is “to show that this is general, at least so general, that the tories are in so small a number, and of such little force, that they are counted as nothing.”

If Mr. Calkoen would believe me, I could testify as a witness; I could describe all the sources, all the grounds, springs, principles, and motives to toryism through the continent. This would lead me into great length; and the result of all would be, my sincere opinion, that the tories throughout the whole continent do not amount to the twentieth part of the people. I will not, however, obtrude my testimony, nor my opinion; I will appeal to witnesses who cannot be suspected, General Burgoyne and General Howe. Burgoyne has published a Narrative of his Proceedings, in which he speaks of the tories. I left the pamphlet at Paris, but it may easily be had from London.

Edition: current; Page: [271]

General Howe has also published a Narrative relative to his Conduct in America, to which the reader is referred.1

I have quoted to you General Howe’s words; and one would think this was sufficient to show how much or how little zeal there is for the British cause in North America. When we consider that, in the period here mentioned, the English army had been in possession of the cities of Boston, Newport, New York, and Philadelphia, and that they had marched through the Jersies, part of Maryland, and Pennsylvania, and with all their arts, bribes, threats, and flatteries, which General Howe calls their efforts and exertions, they were able to obtain so few recruits, and very few of these Americans, I think that any impartial man must be convinced that the aversion and antipathy to the British cause is very general; so general, that the tories are to be accounted but a very little thing.

The addresses which they have obtained to the King and his generals, when their army was in Boston, Newport, New York, Philadelphia, Savannah, and Charleston, show the same thing. It is well known that every art of flattery and of terror was always used to obtain subscribers to these addresses. Yet the miserable numbers they have obtained, and the still more despicable character of most of these small numbers, show that the British cause is held in very low esteem. Even in Charleston, the capital of a Province which contains two hundred thousand whites, they were able to obtain only two hundred and ten subscribers, and among these there is not one name that I ever remember to have heard before.

I am sorry I have not Burgoyne’s Narrative, which shows in the same point of light the resources the English are likely to find in the tories to be nothing more than a sure means of getting rid of a great number of their guineas.

To learn the present state of America, it is sufficient to read the public papers. The present state of Great Britain and its dependencies may be learned the same way. The omnipotence of the British parliament, and the omnipotence of the British navy, are like to go the same way.

Edition: current; Page: [272]

Your third proposition is “to show that America, notwithstanding the war, daily increases in strength and force.”

It is an undoubted fact that America daily increases in strength and force; but it may not be so easy to prove this to the satisfaction of a European who has never been across the Atlantic; however, some things may be brought into consideration, which may convince, if properly attended to.

1. It may be argued from the experience of former wars, during all which the population of that country was so far from being diminished or even kept at a stand, that it was always found at the end of a war that the numbers of people had increased during the course of it, nearly in the same ratio as in time of peace. Even in the last French war, which lasted from 1755 to 1763 (during which time the then American Colonies made as great exertions, had in the field as great a number of men, and put themselves to as great an expense in proportion to the numbers of people, as the United States have done during this war) it was found that the population had increased nearly as fast as in times of peace.

2. If you make inquiry into the circumstances of the different parts of America at this day, you find the people in all the States pushing their settlements out into the wilderness upon the frontiers, cutting down the woods, and subduing new lands with as much eagerness and rapidity as they used to do in former times of war or peace. This spreading of the people into the wilderness is a decisive proof of the increasing population.

3. The only certain way of determining the ratio of the increase of population is, by authentic numerations of the people and regular official returns. This has, I believe, never been done generally in former wars, and has been generally omitted in this. Yet some States have made these returns. The Massachusetts Bay, for example, had a valuation about the year 1773 or 1774, and again the last year, 1779, they had another. In this period of five years, that State was found to have increased, both in number of people and in value of property, more than it ever had grown before in the same period of time. Now the Massachusetts Bay has had a greater number of men employed in the Edition: current; Page: [273] war, both by land and sea, in proportion to the numbers of her inhabitants, than any other State of the thirteen. She has had more men killed, taken prisoners, and died of sickness, than any other State; yet her growth has been as rapid as ever, from whence it may be fairly argued that all the other States have grown in the same or a greater proportion.

4. It has been found by calculations, that America has doubled her numbers, even by natural generation alone, upon an average, about once in eighteen years. This war has now lasted near six years; in the course of it, we commonly compute in America that we have lost by sickness and the sword and captivity about five-and-thirty thousand men. But the numbers of people have not increased less than seven hundred and fifty thousand souls, which give at least an hundred thousand fighting men. We have not less, probably, than seventy thousand fighting men in America more than we had on the day that hostilities were first commenced, on the 19th of April, 1775. There are near twenty thousand fighting men added to the numbers in America every year. Is this the case with our enemy, Great Britain? Which then can maintain the war the longest?

5. If America increases in numbers, she certainly increases in strength. But her strength increases in other respects,—the discipline of her armies increases; the skill of her officers increases by sea and land; her skill in military manufactures, such as those of saltpetre, powder, firearms, cannon, increases; her skill in manufactures of flax and wool for the first necessity increases; her manufactures of salt also increase; and all these are augmentations of strength and force to maintain her independence. Further, her commerce increases every year,—the number of vessels she has had this year in the trade to the West Indies; the number of vessels arrived in Spain, France, Holland, and Sweden, show that her trade is greatly increased this year.

But, above all, her activity, skill, bravery, and success in privateering increase every year; the prizes she has made from the English this year will defray more than one half of the whole expense of this year’s war. I only submit to your consideration a few hints which will enable you to satisfy yourself by reflection how fast the strength and force of America increase.

Edition: current; Page: [274]

Your fourth question is,—“Whether America, in and of itself, by means of purchasing or exchanging the productions of the several provinces, would be able to continue the war for six, eight, or ten years, even if they were entirely deprived of the trade with Europe; or their allies, exhausted by the war, and forced to make a separate peace, were to leave them?”

This is an extreme case. And where is the necessity of putting such a supposition? Is there the least appearance of France or Spain being exhausted by the war? Are not their resources much greater than those of England, separated as she is from America? Why should a suspicion be entertained that France or Spain will make a separate peace? Are not these powers sufficiently interested in separating America from England? All the world knows that their maritime power and the possession of their Colonies depend upon separating them. Such chimeras as these are artfully propagated by the English to terrify stockjobbers; but thinking men and well-informed men know that France and Spain have the most pressing motives to persevere in the war. Besides, infractions so infamous of solemn treaties made and avowed to all mankind are not committed by any nation. In short, no man who knows any thing of the real wealth and power of England on one hand, and of the power and resources of France, Spain, and America on the other, can believe it possible, in the ordinary course of human events, and without the interposition of miracles, that France and Spain should be so exhausted by the war as to be forced to make a separate peace.

The other supposition here made is equally extreme. It is in the nature of things impossible that America should ever be deprived entirely of the trade of Europe. In opposition to one extreme, I have a right to advance another. And I say, that if all the maritime powers of Europe were to unite their navies to block up the American ports and prevent the trade of Europe, they could not wholly prevent it. All the men-of-war in Europe would not be sufficient to block up a seacoast of two thousand miles in extent, varied as that of America is by such an innumerable multitude of ports, bays, harbors, rivers, creeks, inlets, and Edition: current; Page: [275] islands; with a coast so tempestuous, that there are many occasions in the course of the year when merchant vessels can push out and in, although men-of-war cannot cruise. It should be remembered that this war was maintained by America for three years before France took any part in it. During all that time, the English had fifty men-of-war upon that coast, which is a greater number than they ever will have again; yet all their vigilance was not sufficient to prevent American trade with Europe. At the worst time we ever saw, one vessel in three went and came safe. At present, there is not one in four taken. It should also be remembered, that the French navy have never, until this year, been many days together upon the American coast. So that we have in a sense maintained the trade of the continent five years against all that the English navy could do, and it has been growing every year.

Why then should we put cases that we know can never happen? However, I can inform you that the case was often put before this war broke out; and I have heard the common farmers in America reasoning upon these cases seven years ago. I have heard them say, if Great Britain could build a wall of brass a thousand feet high all along the seacoast, at low-water mark, we can live and be happy. America is, most undoubtedly, capable of being the most independent country upon earth. It produces every thing for the necessity, comfort, and conveniency of life, and many of the luxuries too. So that, if there were an eternal separation between Europe and America, the inhabitants of America would not only live but multiply, and, for what I know, be wiser, better, and happier than they will be as it is.

That it would be unpleasant and burthensome to America to continue the war for eight or ten years is certain. But will it not be unpleasant and burthensome to Great Britain too? There are between three and four millions of people in America. The kingdom of Sweden, that of Denmark, and even the republic of the United Provinces, have not each of them many more than that number; yet these States can maintain large standing armies even in time of peace, and maintain the expenses of courts and governments much more costly than the government of America. What then should hinder America from maintaining an army sufficient to defend her altars and Edition: current; Page: [276] her firesides? The Americans are as active, as industrious, and as capable as other men.

America could undoubtedly maintain a regular army of twenty thousand men forever. And a regular army of twenty thousand men would be sufficient to keep all the land forces, that Great Britain can send there, confined to the seaport towns, under cover of the guns of their men-of-war. Whenever the British army shall attempt to penetrate far into the country, the regular American army will be joined by such reinforcements from the militia, as will ruin the British force. By desertions, by fatigue, by sickness, and by the sword, in occasional skirmishes, their numbers will be wasted, and the miserable remains of them Burgoyned.

V.

The fifth inquiry is, “Whether a voluntary revolt of any one or more of the States in the American confederation is to be apprehended: and if one or more were to revolt, whether the others would not be able to defend themselves?”

This is a very judicious and material question. I conceive that the answer to it is easy and decisive. There is not the least danger of a voluntary revolt of any one State in the Union. It is difficult to prove a negative, however; and still more difficult to prove a future negative. Let us, however, consider the subject a little.

Which State is the most likely to revolt, or submit? Is it the most ancient Colony, as Virginia, or the Massachusetts? Is it the most numerous and powerful, as Virginia, Massachusetts, or Pennsylvania? I believe nobody will say, that any one of these great States will take the lead in a revolt or a voluntary submission.

Will it be the smallest and weakest States that will be most likely to give up voluntarily? In order to satisfy ourselves of this, let us consider what has happened; and by the knowledge of what is passed, we may judge of what is to come.

The three smallest States are Rhode Island, Georgia, and Delaware.

The English have plainly had it in view to bring one of these Edition: current; Page: [277] States to a submission, and have accordingly directed very great forces against them.

Let us begin with Rhode Island. In the latter end of the year 1776, General Howe sent a large army of near seven thousand men, by sea, under a strong convoy of men-of-war, detached by Lord Howe, to take possession of Newport, the capital of Rhode Island. Newport stands upon an island. It was neither fortified nor garrisoned sufficiently to defend itself against so powerful a fleet and army, and, therefore, the English made themselves masters of the place. But what advantage did they derive from it? Did the Colony of Rhode Island, small as it is, submit? So far from it, that they were rendered the more eager to resist; and an army was assembled at Providence, which confined the English to the prison of Rhode Island, until the fall of the year 1779, when they were obliged to evacuate it, and our army entered it in triumph.

The next little State which the English attempted, was Delaware. This State consists of three counties only, situated upon the river Delaware, below Philadelphia, and is the most exposed to the English men-of-war of any of the States, because they are open to invasion not only upon the ocean, but all along the river Delaware. It contains not more than thirty thousand souls. When the English got possession of Philadelphia, and had the command of the whole navigation of the Delaware, these people were more in the power of the English than any part of America ever was, and the English generals, admirals, commissioners, and all the tories, used all their arts to seduce this little State, but they could not succeed; they never could get the appearance of a government erected under the King’s authority. The people continued their delegation in congress, and continued to elect their governors, senate, and assemblies, under their new constitution, and to furnish their quota to the continental army, and their proportion to the militia, until the English were obliged to evacuate Philadelphia. There are besides, in this little State, from various causes, more tories, in proportion, than in any other. And as this State stood immovable, I think we have no reason to fear a voluntary submission of any other.

The next small State that was attempted was Georgia. This State is situated at the southern extremity of all, and at such a distance from all the rest, and such difficulties of communication, Edition: current; Page: [278] being above an hundred miles from Charleston, in South Carolina, that it was impossible for the neighboring States to afford them any assistance. The English invaded this little State, and took the capital, Savannah, and have held it to this day; but this acquisition has not been followed by any submission of the province; on the contrary, they continue their delegation in congress, and their new officers of government. This Province, moreover, was more immediately the child of England than any other; the settlement of it cost England more than all the rest, from whence one might expect they would have more friends here than any where.

New Jersey is one of the middling-sized States. New Jersey had a large British army in Philadelphia, which is on one side, and another in New York, which is on the other side, and the British army has marched quite through it; and the English have used every policy of flattery, of terror, and severity, but all in vain, and worse than in vain; all has conspired to make the people of New Jersey some of the most determined against the English, and some of the most brave and skilful to resist them.

New York, before the commencement of hostilities, was supposed to be the most lukewarm of the middling States, in the opposition to the designs of the English. The English armies have invaded it from Canada and from the ocean, and have long been in possession of three islands, New York Island, Long Island, and Staten Island; yet the rest of that Province has stood immovable, through all the varieties of the fortune of war, for four years, and increases in zeal and unanimity every year.

I think, therefore, there is not even a possibility, that any one of the thirteen States should ever voluntarily revolt or submit.

The efforts and exertions of General Howe in New York, Long Island, Staten Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland, to obtain recruits; the vast expense that he put his master to in appointing new corps of officers, even general officers; the pains they took to enlist men, among all the stragglers in those countries, and among many thousands of prisoners which they then had in their hands; all these measures obtaining but three thousand six hundred men, and very few of these Americans, according to General Howe’s own Edition: current; Page: [279] account, shows, I think, to a demonstration, that no voluntary revolt or submission is ever to be apprehended.

But even supposing that Rhode Island should submit, what could this small colony of fifty thousand souls do, in the midst of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire?

Supposing Delaware, thirty thousand souls, should submit, what influence could it have upon the great States of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, among which it lies?

If Georgia, at the extremity of all, should submit, what influence could this little society of thirty thousand souls have upon the two Carolinas and Virginia? The Colonies are at such vast distances from one another, and the country is so fortified every where, by rivers, mountains, and forests, that the conquest or submission of one part has no influence upon the rest.

The sixth task is to show, “that no person in America is of so much influence, power, or credit, that his death, or corruption by English money, could be of any namable consequence.”

This question is very natural for a stranger to ask; but it would not occur to a native American, who had passed all his life in his own country; and upon hearing it proposed, he could only smile.

It should be considered, that there are in America no kings, princes, or nobles; no popes, cardinals, patriarchs, archbishops, bishops, or other ecclesiastical dignitaries. They are these, and such like lofty subordinations, which place great bodies of men in a state of dependence upon one, which enable one or a few individuals, in Europe, to carry away after them large numbers, wherever they may think fit to go. There are no hereditary offices, or titles, in families; nor even any great estates that descend in a right line to the eldest sons. All estates of intestates are distributed among all the children; so that there are no individuals nor families who have, either from office, title, or fortune, any extensive power or influence. We are all equal in America, in a political view, and as much alike as Lycurgus’s haycocks. All public offices and employments are bestowed Edition: current; Page: [280] by the free choice of the people, and at present, through the whole continent, are in the hands of those gentlemen who have distinguished themselves the most by their counsels, exertions, and sufferings, in the contest with Great Britain. If there ever was a war, that could be called the people’s war, it is this of America against Great Britain; it having been determined on by the people, and pursued by the people in every step of its progress.

But who is it in America that has credit to carry over to the side of Great Britain any numbers of men? General Howe tells us that he employed Mr. Delancey, Mr. Cortland Skinner, Mr. Chalmers, and Mr. Galloway, the most influential men they could find; and he tells you their ridiculous success.

Are they members of congress who, by being corrupted, would carry votes in congress in favor of the English? I can tell you of a truth there has not been one motion made in congress, since the declaration of independency, on the fourth of July, 1776, for a reconciliation with Great Britain; and there is not one man in America of sufficient authority or credit to make a motion in congress for a peace with Great Britain, upon any terms short of independence, without ruining his character forever. If a delegate from any one of the thirteen States were to make a motion for peace upon any conditions short of independency, that delegate would be recalled with indignation by his constituents as soon as they should know it. The English have artfully represented in Europe that congress have been governed by particular gentlemen; but you may depend upon it it is false. At one time the English would have made it believed that Mr. Randolph, the first President of Congress, was its soul. Mr. Randolph died, and congress proceeded as well as ever. At another time, Mr. Hancock was all and all. Mr. Hancock left the congress, and has scarcely been there for three years; yet congress has proceeded with as much wisdom, honor, and fortitude as ever. At another time, the English represented that Mr. Dickinson was the ruler of America. Mr. Dickinson opposed openly, and upon principle, the declaration of independency; but, instead of carrying his point, his constituents differed with him so materially that they recalled him from congress, and he was absent for some years; yet congress proceeded with no less constancy; and Mr. Dickinson lately, finding all America Edition: current; Page: [281] unalterably fixed in the system of independency, has fallen in like a good citizen, and now supports it in congress with as much zeal as others. At another time, the English have been known to believe that Dr. Franklin was the essential member of congress; but Dr. Franklin was sent to France in 1776, and has been there ever since; yet congress has been as active and as capable as before. At another time, Mr. Samuel Adams was represented as the man who did every thing; yet Mr. Samuel Adams has been absent for the greatest part of three years, attending his duty as Secretary of State in the Massachusetts Bay; yet it does not appear that Mr. Adams’s absence has weakened the deliberations of congress in the least. Nay, they have sometimes been silly enough to represent your humble servant, Mr. John Adams, as an essential member of congress; it is now, however, three years since congress did him the honor to send him to Europe, as a Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of Versailles, and he has never been in congress since; yet congress have done better since he came away than they ever did before.

In short, sir, all these pretences are the most ridiculous imaginable. The American cause stands upon the essential, unalterable character of the whole body of the people; upon their prejudices, passions, habits, and principles, which they derived from their ancestors, their education, drew in with their mothers’ milk, and have been confirmed in by the whole course of their lives; and the characters whom they have made conspicuous, by placing them in their public employments,

  • Are but bubbles on the sea of matter borne;
  • They rise, they break, and to that sea return.

The same reasoning is applicable to all the governors, lieutenant-governors, secretaries of state, judges, senators, and representatives of particular states. They are all eligible, and elected every year by the body of the people; and would lose their characters and influence the instant they should depart, in their public conduct, from the political system that the people are determined to support.

But are there any officers of the army who could carry over large numbers of people? The influence of these officers is confined to the army; they have very little among the citizens. Edition: current; Page: [282] But if we consider the constitution of that army, we shall see that it is impossible that any officer could carry with him any numbers, even of soldiers. These officers are not appointed by a king, or a prince, nor by General Washington; they can hardly be said to be appointed by congress. They have all commissions from congress, it is true; but they are named and recommended, and are generally appointed, by the executive branch of government in the particular State to which they belong, except the general officers, who are appointed by congress. The continental army consists of the quotas of officers and troops furnished by thirteen different States. If an officer of the Massachusetts Bay forces, for example, should go over to the enemy, he might, possibly, carry with him half a dozen soldiers belonging to that State; yet I even doubt, whether any officer whatever, who should desert from that State, could persuade so many as half a dozen soldiers to go with him.

Is it necessary to put the supposition, that General Washington should be corrupted? Is it possible, that so fair a fame as Washington’s should be exchanged for gold or for crowns? A character so false, so cruel, so blood-thirsty, so detestable as that of Monk might betray a trust; but a character so just, so humane, so fair, so open, honorable, and amiable as Washington’s, never can be stained with so foul a reproach.

Yet I am fully of opinion, that even if Mr. Washington should go over to the English, which I know to be impossible, he would find none or very few officers or soldiers to go with him. He would become the contempt and execration of his own army as well as of all the rest of mankind.

No, sir! the American cause is in no danger from the defection of any individual. Nothing short of an entire alteration in the sentiments of the whole body of the people can make any material change in the councils or in the conduct of the arms of the United States; and I am very sure that Great Britain has not power or art sufficient to change essentially the temper, the feelings, and the opinions of between three and four millions of people at three thousand miles distance, supported as they are by powerful allies.

If such a change could ever have been made, it would have been seven years ago, when offices, employments, and power in America were in the hands of the King. But every ray of royal Edition: current; Page: [283] authority has been extinguished now between four and five years, and all civil and military authority is in hands determined to resist Great Britain to the last.

VII.

Your seventh inquiry is,—“Whether the common people in America are not inclined, nor would be able to find sufficient means to frustrate by force the good intentions of the skilful politicians?”

In answer to this, it is sufficient to say, that the commonalty have no need to have recourse to force to oppose the intentions of the skilful; because the law and the constitution authorize the common people to choose governors and magistrates every year; so that they have it constantly in their power to leave out any politician, however skilful, whose principles, opinions, or systems they do not approve.

The difference, however, in that country, is not so great as it is in some others, between the common people and the gentlemen; for noblemen they have none. There is no country where the common people, I mean the tradesmen, the husbandmen, and the laboring people, have such advantages of education as in that; and it may be truly said, that their education, their understanding, and their knowledge are as nearly equal as their birth, fortune, dignities, and titles.

It is therefore certain, that whenever the common people shall determine upon peace or submission, it will be done. But of this there is no danger. The common people are the most unanimously determined against Great Britain of any; it is the war of the common people; it was undertaken by them, and has been, and will be supported by them.

The people of that country often rose in large bodies against the measures of government while it was in the hands of the King. But there has been no example of this sort under the new constitutions, excepting one, which is mentioned in General Howe’s Narrative, in the back part of North Carolina. This was owing to causes so particular, that it rather serves to show the strength of the American cause in that State than the contrary.

About the year 1772, under the government of Tryon, who has Edition: current; Page: [284] since made himself so obnoxious to all America, there were some warm disputes in North Carolina concerning some of the internal regulations of that Province; and a small number of people in the back parts rose in arms, under the name of Regulators, against the government. Governor Tryon marched at the head of some troops drawn from the militia, gave battle to the regulators, defeated them, hanged some of their ringleaders, and published proclamations against many others. These people were all treated as having been in rebellion, and they were left to solicit pardon of the Crown. This established in the minds of those regulators such a hatred towards the rest of their fellow-citizens, that in 1775, when the war broke out, they would not join with them. The King has since promised them pardon for their former treasons, upon condition that they commit fresh ones against their country. In 1777, in conjunction with a number of Scotch Highlanders, they rose; and Governor Caswell marched against them, gave them battle, and defeated them. This year they have risen again, and been again defeated. But these people are so few in number, there is so much apparent malice and revenge, instead of any principle, in their disaffection, that any one who knows any thing of the human heart will see that, instead of finally weakening the American cause in North Carolina, it will only serve to give a keenness and an obstinacy to those who support it.

Nothing, indeed, can show the unanimity of the people throughout America in a stronger light than this,—that the British army has been able to procure so few recruits, to excite so few insurrections and disturbances. Nay, although the freedom of the press and the freedom of speech are carried to as great lengths in that country as in any under the sun, there has never been a hint in a newspaper, or even in a handbill, nor a single speech or vote in any assembly, that I have heard of, for submission, or even for reconciliation.

VIII.

The eighth inquiry is,—“What England properly ought to do to force America to submission, and preserve her in it? Edition: current; Page: [285] How much time, money, and how many vessels would be wanted for that purpose?”

I assure you, sir, I am as much at a loss to inform you in this particular as Lord George Germaine would be. I can fix upon no number of men, nor any sum of money, nor any number of ships that I think would be sufficient. But most certainly no number of ships or men which Great Britain now has, or ever can have, nor any sum of money that she will ever be able to command, will be sufficient.

If it were in the power of Great Britain to send a hundred thousand men to America, and they had men-of-war and transports enough to convey them there in safety amidst the dangers that await them from French, Spanish, and American men-of-war, they might possibly get possession of two or three provinces, and place so many garrisons in various parts as to prevent the people from exercising the functions of government under their new constitutions; and they might set up a sham appearance of a civil government under the King; but I do not believe that a hundred thousand men could gain and preserve them the civil government of any three States in the Confederation. The States are at such distances from one another, there are such difficulties in passing from one to another by land, and such a multitude of posts are necessary to be garrisoned and provided in order to command any one Colony, that an army of a hundred thousand men would soon find itself consumed in getting and keeping possession of one or two States. But it would require the armies of Semiramis to command and preserve them all.

Such is the nature of that country, and such the character of the people, that if the English were to send ever so many ships, and ever so many troops, they never would subdue all the Americans. Numbers, in every State, would fly to the mountains, and beyond the mountains, and there maintain a constant war against the English. In short, if the English could conquer America, which they never can, nor any one State in it, it would cost them a standing army of an hundred thousand men to preserve their conquest; for it is in vain for them ever to think of any other government’s taking place again under the King of England, but a military government.

As to the number of ships, it must be in proportion to the Edition: current; Page: [286] number of troops; they must have transports enough to carry their troops, and men-of-war enough to convoy them through their numerous French, Spanish, and American enemies upon the seas.

As to the sums of money, you will easily see, that adding two hundred millions more to the two hundred millions they already owe, would not procure and maintain so many ships and troops.

It is very certain the English can never send any great numbers more of troops to America. The men are not to be had; the money is not to be had; the seamen, and even the transports, are not to be had.

I give this to Mr. Calkoen as my private opinion concerning the question he asks. As Mr. Calkoen observes, this is a question that had better not be publicly answered; but time will show the answer here given is right. It would, at present, be thought extravagance or enthusiasm. Mr. Adams only requests Mr. Calkoen to look over this letter a few years hence, and then say what his opinion of it is. Victories gained by the English, in taking seaport towns, or in open field fighting, will make no difference in my answer to this question. Victories gained by the English will conquer themselves sooner than the Americans. Fighting will not fail, in the end, to turn to the advantage of America, although the English may gain an advantage in this or that particular engagement.

IX.

The ninth question is, “how strong the English land force is in America? How strong it was at the beginning? And whether it increases or diminishes?”

According to the estimates laid before parliament, the army under General Howe, General Carleton, and General Burgoyne, amounts to fifty-five thousand men, besides volunteers, refugees, tories, in short, all the recruits raised in Canada, and all other parts of America, under whatever denomination. If we suppose that all these, in Canada and elsewhere, amounted to five thousand men, the whole, according to this computation, amounted to sixty thousand land forces.

Edition: current; Page: [287]

This estimate, however, must have been made from the number of regiments, and must have supposed them all to be full.

General Howe, himself, however, in his Narrative, page 45, tells us, that his whole force, at the time when he landed on Long Island, in 1776, amounted to twenty thousand one hundred and twenty-one rank and file, of which one thousand six hundred and seventy-seven were sick.

By a regular return of General Burgoyne’s army, after its captivity in 1777, it amounted, in Canadians, Provincials, British and German troops, to upwards of ten thousand men. We may suppose, that four thousand men were left in Canada for the garrison of Quebec, Montreal, and the great number of other posts in that Province. To these numbers if we add the officers, we may fairly allow the whole land force at that time to be forty thousand combatants.

This is all the answer that I am able to give from memory to the question “How strong the British army was?”

In order to give an answer to the other,—“How strong it is?”—let us consider—

1. There has been no large reinforcement ever sent to America since that time. They have sent some troops every year; but these never amounted to more than recruits, and, probably, rather fall short of filling up the vacancies which were made in the course of the year by desertion and death, by sickness and by the sword; so that, upon the whole, I think it may be safely said, that the army never has been greater than it was in 1776.

But we must deduct from this ten thousand men taken with Burgoyne, one thousand Hessians taken at Trenton and Princeton, and indeed many more, taken by two or three hundred at a time, upon other occasions.

In the next place, we must deduct, I suppose, about ten thousand more sent since the French war to Jamaica, St. Lucia, Barbadoes, and the other West India Islands.

So that, upon the whole, I think we make an ample allowance, if we state the whole number now in New York, Carolina, and Georgia, including all refugees, &c., at twenty thousand men, officers included.

This is, in part, an answer to the question, “Whether their force increases or diminishes?” But it should be further considered that there is a constant and rapid consumption of their Edition: current; Page: [288] men. Many die of sickness, numbers desert, there have been frequent skirmishes, in which they have ever had more men killed and wounded than the Americans; and now, so many of their troops are in Carolina and Georgia, where the climate is unhealthy, that there is great reason to expect the greatest part of that army will die of disease. And whoever considers the efforts the English have made in Germany, Ireland, Scotland, and England, as well as America, for seven years successively, to raise men, the vast bounties they have offered, and the few they have obtained; whoever considers the numbers they must lose this year by the severity of duty and by sickness, in New York, Carolina, Georgia, and the West India Islands, and the numbers that have been taken going to Quebec, North America, the East and West Indies, will be convinced that all the efforts they can make, will not enable them for the future to keep their numbers good.

X.

The tenth head of inquiry is, “How great is the force of America? The number of men? Their discipline, &c., from the commencement of the troubles? Is there a good supply of warlike stores? Are these to be found partly or entirely in America? Or must they be imported?”

The force of America consists of a regular army, and of a militia; the regular army has been various at different times. The first regular army, which was formed in April, 1775, was enlisted for six months only; the next was enlisted for one year; the next for three years; the last period expired last February. At each of these periods, between the expiration of a term of enlistment, and the formation of a new army, the English have given themselves airs of triumph, and have done some brilliant exploits. In the winter of 1775-6, indeed, they were in Boston; and although our army, after the expiration of the first period of enlistment for six months, was reduced to a small number, yet the English were not in a condition to attempt any thing. In the winter of 1776-7, after the expiration of the second term of enlistment, and before the new army was brought together, the English marched through the Jersies. After the expiration of the last term of enlistment, which was for three years, and Edition: current; Page: [289] ended last January or February, the English went to their old exultations again, and undertook the expedition to Charleston. In the course of the last spring and summer, however, it seems the army has been renewed; and they are now enlisted, in general, during the war.

To state the numbers of the regular army according to the establishment, that is, according to the number of regiments at their full complement, I suppose the continental army has sometimes amounted to fourscore thousand men. But the American regiments have not often been full, any more than the English. There are in the war office, at Philadelphia, regular monthly returns of the army, from 1775 to this day, but I am not able, from memory, to give any accurate account of them; it is sufficient to say, that the American regular army has been generally superior to that of the English; and it would not be good policy to keep a larger army, unless we had a prospect of putting an end to the British power in America by it. But this, without a naval superiority, is very difficult, if not impracticable; the English take possession of a seaport town, fortify it in the strongest manner, and cover it with the guns of their men-of-war, so that our army cannot come at it. If France and Spain should coöperate with us so far as to send ships enough to maintain the superiority at sea, it would not require many years, perhaps not many months, to exterminate the English from the United States. But this policy those courts have not adopted, which is a little surprising, because it is obvious that by captivating the British fleet and army in America, the most decisive blow would be given to their power, which can possibly be given in any quarter of the globe.

What number of regular troops General Washington has at this time under his immediate command, I am not able precisely to say; I presume, however, that he has not less than twenty thousand men, besides the French troops under the Comte de Rochambeau. Nor am I able to say, how many General Gates has to the southward.

But besides the regular army, we are to consider the militia, Several of the Colonies were formed into a militia, from the beginning of their settlement. After the commencement of this war, all the others followed their example, and made laws, by which all the inhabitants of America are now enrolled in a Edition: current; Page: [290] militia, which may be computed at five hundred thousand men. But these are scattered over a territory of one hundred and fifty miles in breadth, and at least fifteen hundred miles in length, lying all along upon the sea-coast. This gives the English the advantage, by means of their superiority at sea, to remove suddenly and easily from one part of the continent to another, as from Boston to New York, from New York to Rhode Island, from New York to Chesapeake or Delaware Bay, or to Savannah or Charleston; and the Americans the disadvantage, of not being able to march either the regular troops or the militia to such vast distances, without immense expense of money and of time. This puts it in the power of the English to take so many of our seaport towns, but not to make any long and successful marches into the interior country, or make any permanent establishment there.

As to discipline, in the beginning of the war there was very little, either among the militia or the regular troops. The American officers have, however, been industrious; they have had the advantage of reading all the books which have any reputation concerning military science; they have had the example of their enemies, the British officers, before their eyes a long time, indeed, from the year 1768; and they have had the honor of being joined by British, German, French, Prussian, and Polish officers, of infantry and cavalry, of artillery and engineering; so that the art of war is now as well understood in the American army, and military discipline is now carried to as great perfection, as in any country whatever.

As to a supply of warlike stores: at the commencement of hostilities, the Americans had neither cannon, arms, or ammuni, tion, but in such contemptible quantities as distressed them beyond description; and they have all along been straitened, at times, by a scarcity of these articles, and are to this day.

They have, however, at present, an ample field artillery; they have arms and powder; and they can never be again absolutely destitute, because the manufactures of all sorts of arms, of cannon of all sorts, of saltpetre and powder, have been introduced and established. These manufactures, although very good, are very dear, and it is difficult to make enough for so constant and so great a consumption. Quantities of these articles are imported every year; and it is certain they can be imported Edition: current; Page: [291] and paid for by American produce, cheaper than they can be made.

But the Americans, to make their system perfect, want five hundred thousand stands of arms, that is,—one at least for every militia man, with powder, ball, and accoutrements in proportion. This, however, is rather to be wished for than expected. The French fleet carried arms to America; and if the communication between America and France and Spain should become more frequent by frigates and men-of-war, and, especially, if this republic should be compelled into a war with England, America will probably never again suffer much for want of arms or ammunition.

The English began the war against the northern Colonies; here they found the effects of ancient militia laws; they found a numerous and hardy militia, who fought and defeated them upon many occasions. They then thought it necessary to abandon these, and fall upon the middle Colonies, whose militia had not been so long formed; however, after several years’ experience, they found they were not able to do any thing to the purpose against them. They have lastly conceived the design of attacking the southern Colonies; here, the white people, and consequently the militia, are not so numerous, and have not yet been used to war. Here, therefore, they have had some apparent successes; but they will find in the end their own destruction in these very successes. The climate will devour their men; their first successes will embolden them to rash enterprises; the people there will become inured to war, and will finally totally destroy them; for, as to the silly gasconade of bringing the southern Colonies to submission, there is not even a possibility of it. The people of those States are as firm in principle, and as determined in their tempers against the designs of the English, as the middle or the northern States.

XI.

Your eleventh question will give an opportunity of making some observations upon a subject that is quite misunderstood in every part of Europe. I shall answer it with great pleasure, Edition: current; Page: [292] according to the best of my information, and with the utmost candor.

The question is,—

“How great is the present debt of America? What has she occasion for yearly to act defensively? Are those wants supplied by the inhabitants themselves, or by other nations? If in the latter case, what does America lose of her strength by it? Are they not, in one manner or other, recompensed again by some equivalent advantage? If so, in what manner? What would be required to act offensively, and by that means shorten the war?”

All Europe has a mistaken apprehension of the present debt of America. This debt is of two sorts,—that which is due from the thirteen United States, in congress assembled; and that which is owing from each of the thirteen States in its separate capacity. I am not able to say, with precision, what the debt of each separate State is; but all these added together, fall far short of the debt of the United States.

The debt of the United States consists of three branches:—1. The sums which have been lent them by France and Spain, and by M. Beaumarchais & Co. These have been for purchasing some supplies of cannon, arms, ammunition, and clothing for the troops; for assisting prisoners escaped from England, and for some other purposes. But the whole sum amounts to no great thing.

2. The loan-office certificates, which are promissory notes given to individuals in America who have lent paper money to the congress, and are their securities for the payment of the principal and interest. These the congress have equitably determined shall be paid, according to the value of the paper bills, in proportion to silver, at the time of their dates.

3. The paper bills which are now in circulation, or which were in circulation on the 18th day of March last. These bills amounted to the nominal sum of two hundred millions of dollars; but the real value of them to the possessors is estimated at forty for one, amounting to five millions of Spanish dollars, or one million and a quarter sterling. This is the full value of them, perhaps more; but this estimation of them has given satisfaction in America to the possessors of them, who certainly obtained them in general at a cheaper rate.

Edition: current; Page: [293]

These three branches of debt, which are the whole (according to a calculation made last May, and sent me by a member of congress who has been four years a member of their treasury board, and is perfect master of the subject) amount in the whole to five millions sterling and no more. The national debt of America then is five millions sterling.

In order to judge of the burden of this debt, we may compare it with the numbers of people. They are three millions. The national debt of Great Britain is two hundred millions. The number of people in England and Scotland is not more than six millions. Why should not America, with three millions of people, be able to bear a debt of one hundred millions as well as Great Britain, with six millions of people, a debt of two hundred millions?

We may compare it with the exports of America. In 1774, the exports of America were six millions sterling. In the same year the exports of Great Britain were twelve millions. Why would not the exports of America, of six millions, bear a national debt of one hundred millions, as well as the twelve millions of British exports bear a debt of two hundred millions?

We may compare it in this manner with the national debt of France, Spain, the United Provinces, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Portugal, and you will find that it is but small in comparison.

We may compare it in another point of view. Great Britain has already spent in this war sixty millions sterling; America, five millions. Great Britain has annually added to her national debt more than the whole amount of her annual exports; America has not added to hers in the whole course of five years’ war a sum equal to one year’s exports.

The debt of Great Britain is, in a large proportion of it, due to foreigners, for which they must annually pay the interest by sending cash abroad. A very trifle of the American debt is yet due to foreigners.

Lord North borrowed last year twelve millions; and every future year of the war must borrow the same or a larger sum. America could carry on this war a hundred years by borrowing only one million sterling a year.

The annual expense of America has not hitherto exceeded one million a year; that of Great Britain has exceeded twenty millions some years. America may therefore carry on this war Edition: current; Page: [294] a hundred years, and at the end of it will be no more in debt, in proportion to her present numbers of people and her exports in 1774, than Great Britain is now.

There is another consideration of some weight; the landed interest in America is vastly greater, in proportion to the mercantile interest than it is in Great Britain. The exports of America are the productions of the soil annually, which increase every year. The exports of Great Britain are manufactures, which will decrease every year while this war with America lasts.

The only objection to this reasoning is this,—that America is not used to great taxes, and the people there are not yet disciplined to such enormous taxation as in England. This is true; and this makes all their perplexity at present; but they are capable of bearing as great taxes in proportion as the English; and if the English force them to it, by continuing the war, they will reconcile themselves to it; and they are in fact now taxing themselves more and more every year, and to an amount, that a man who knew America only twenty years ago would think incredible.

Her wants have hitherto been supplied by the inhabitants themselves, and they have been very little indebted to foreign nations. But, on account of the depreciation of her paper, and in order to introduce a more stable currency, she has now occasion to borrow a sum of money abroad, which would enable her to support her credit at home, to exert herself more vigorously against the English, both by sea and land, and greatly assist her in extending her commerce with foreign nations, especially the Dutch. America would not lose of her strength by borrowing money; but, on the contrary, would gain vastly. It would enable her to exert herself more by privateering, which is a mine of gold to her. She would make remittances in bills of exchange to foreign merchants for their commodities; and it would enable many persons to follow their true interest in cultivating the land, instead of attending to manufactures, which, being indispensable, they are now obliged more or less to follow, though less profitable. The true profit of America is the continual augmentation of the price and value of land. Improvement in land is her principal employment, her best policy, and the principal source of her growing wealth.

Edition: current; Page: [295]

The last question is easily answered. It is,—“What would be required to act offensively, and by that means shorten the war?”

To this I answer, nothing is wanted but a loan of money and a fleet of ships.

A fleet of ships, only sufficient to maintain a superiority over the English, would enable the infant Hercules to strangle all the serpents that environ his cradle. It is impossible to express in too strong terms the importance of a few ships of the line to the Americans. Two or three French, or Dutch, or Spanish ships of the line, stationed at Rhode Island, Boston, Delaware River, or Chesapeake Bay, would have prevented the dreadful sacrifice at Penobscot. Three or four ships of the line would have prevented the whole expedition to Charleston. Three or four ships of the line more, added to the squadron of the Chevalier de Ternay, would have enabled the Americans to have taken New York.

A loan of money is now wanted, to give stability to the currency of America; to give vigor to the enlistments for the army; to add alacrity to the fitting out privateers; and to give an ample extension to their trade.

The Americans will labor through, without a fleet, and without a loan. But it is ungenerous and cruel to put them to such difficulties, and to keep mankind embroiled in all the horrors of war, for want of such trifles, which so many of the powers of Europe wish they had, and could so easily furnish. But if mankind must be embroiled, and the blood of thousands must be shed, for want of a little magnanimity in some, the Americans must not be blamed; it is not their fault.

XII.

We are now come to your twelfth head of inquiry, which is, “What countenance have the finances? How much does the expense exceed the yearly income? Does the annual revenue, deriving from the taxes, increase or diminish, in the whole, or in any particulars? and what are the reasons to be given for it?”

Here I am apprehensive I shall find a difficulty to make myself understood, as the American finances, and mode of Edition: current; Page: [296] taxation, differ so materially from any that I know of in Europe.

In the month of May, 1775, when the congress came together, for the first time, after the battles of Lexington and Concord, they found it necessary to raise an army, or, rather, to adopt an army already raised, at Cambridge, in order to oppose the British troops, and shut them up in the prison of Boston. But they found that the Colonies were but just got out of debt, had just paid off the debts contracted in the last French war. In the several treasuries of the Colonies they found only a few thousand pounds. They had before them a prospect of a stagnation, or interruption of their trade, pretty universally, by the British men-of-war. They had a thousand perplexities before them, in the prospect of passing through thirteen revolutions of government, from the royal authority to that under the people. They had armies and navies to form; they had new constitutions of government to attend to; they had twenty tribes of Indians to negotiate with; they had vast numbers of negroes to take care of; they had all sorts of arms, ammunition, artillery, to procure, as well as blankets and clothing and subsistence for the army; they had negotiations to think of in Europe, and treaties to form, of alliance and commerce; and they had even salt to procure, for the subsistence of the inhabitants, and even of their cattle, as well as their armies.

In this situation, with so many wants and demands, and no money or revenues to recur to, they had recourse to an expedient, which had been often practised in America, but nowhere else; they determined to emit paper money.

The American paper money is nothing but bills of credit, by which the public, the community, promises to pay the possessor a certain sum in a limited time. In a country where there is no coin, or not enough, in circulation, these bills may be emitted to a certain amount, and they will pass at par; but as soon as the quantity exceeds the value of the ordinary business of the people, it will depreciate, and continue to fall in its value, in proportion to the augmentation of the quantity.

The congress, on the 18th of March last, stated this depreciation at forty for one. This may be nearly the average, but it often passes much lower. By this resolution, all the bills in circulation on that day (and none have been emitted since) amount Edition: current; Page: [297] to about one million and a quarter sterling. To this if you add the money borrowed upon loan certificates, and the debt contracted abroad in France and Spain, the whole does not amount to but little more than five millions.

Yearly income we have none, properly speaking. We have no imposts or duties laid upon any articles of importation, exportation, or consumption. The revenue consists entirely in grants annually made by the legislatures, of sums of money for the current service of the year, and appropriated to certain uses. These grants are proportioned upon all the polls and estates, real and personal, in the community; and they are levied and paid into the public treasury with great punctuality, from whence they are issued in payments of the demands upon the public.

You see then that it is in the power of the legislatures to raise what sums are wanted, at least as much as the people can bear; and they are usually proportioned to the public wants, and the people’s abilities. They are now constantly laying on and paying very heavy taxes, although for the first three or four years of the war the obstructions of trade, &c., made it difficult to raise any taxes at all. The yearly taxes, annually laid on, have increased every year for these three years past, and will continue to be increased in proportion to the abilities of the people. This ability, no doubt, increases in proportion as population increases, as new lands are cultivated, and as property is in any way added to the common stock; it will also increase as our commerce increases, and as the success in privateering increases.

But by the method of taxing, you see that it is in the power of the legislature to increase the taxes every year, as the public exigencies may require; and they have no other restraint or limit than the people’s ability.

XIII.

Your thirteenth inquiry is, “What resources might America hereafter still make use of?”

There are many resources, yet untried, which would certainly be explored, if America should be driven to the necessity of them.

1. Luxury prevails in that young country, notwithstanding all the confident assertions of the English concerning their distress, Edition: current; Page: [298] to a degree, that retrenching this alone would enable them to carry on the war. There are expenses in wheel carriages, horses, equipage, furniture, dress, and the table, which might be spared, and would amount to enough to carry on the war.

2. The Americans might, and, rather than the English should prevail against them, they would, be brought to impose duties upon articles of luxury and convenience, and even of necessity, as has been done by all the nations of Europe. I am not able at present, and upon memory, to entertain you with accurate calculations; but in general it may be said, with certainty, that, if as heavy duties were laid upon articles of consumption and importation as are laid in England, or even in Holland, they would produce a revenue sufficient to carry on this war without borrowing at all. I hope, however, they will never come to this. I am clear they need not. Such systematical and established revenues are dangerous to liberty; which is safe, while the revenue depends upon annual grants of the people, because this secures public economy.

3. If there should be hereafter any accession to the population of America, by migrations from Europe, this will be a fresh resource; because, in that country of agriculture, the ability to raise a revenue will bear a constant proportion to the numbers of people.

4. There are immense tracts of uncultivated lands. These lands are all claimed by particular States; but if these States should cede these claims to the congress, which they would do in case of necessity, the congress might sell these lands, and they would become a great resource; no man can say how great, or how lasting.

5. There is a great deal of plate in America; and if she were driven to extremities, the ladies, I assure you, have patriotism enough to give up their plate to the public, rather than lose their liberties, or run any great hazard of it.

6. There is another resource still. The war may be carried on by means of a fluctuating medium of paper money. The war has been carried on in this manner hitherto; and I firmly believe, if the people could not find a better way, they would agree to call in all the paper, and let it lie as a demand upon the public, to be hereafter equitably paid, according to its fluctuating value, in silver; and emit new bills to depreciate, and Edition: current; Page: [299] carry on the war in the same way. This, however, would occasion many perplexities and much unhappiness; it would do injustice to many individuals, and will and ought to be avoided, if possible.

7. A loan in Europe, however, would be the best resource, as it would necessarily extend our trade, and relieve the people from too great a present burden. Very heavy taxes are hurtful, because they lessen the increase of population, by making the means of subsistence more difficult.

8. There are resources of agriculture, manufactures, and labor, that would produce much, if explored and attempted.

9. The resources of trade and privateering ought to be mentioned again. The real cause of our doing so little hitherto, is this:—The congress, in 1774, agreed upon a non-exportation, to begin in September, 1775. This induced the merchants in every part of America to send their ships and sailors to England, from whence the most of them never returned. The consequence of which was, that the Americans have been distressed for want of ships and seamen ever since. But the number of both has increased every year, in spite of all that the English have taken and destroyed. The vast number of ships and seamen taken this year will repair those losses; and no man can say to what an extent trade and privateering will be carried the next and the succeeding years.

XIV.

The fourteenth question is,—“What is the quantity of paper money in circulation? What credit the inhabitants have for it in their daily business? What designs the inhabitants have, by maintaining its credit? What by preventing its increase? And in what manner do they realize it?”

The quantity of paper bills in circulation on the 18th of March last, was two hundred millions of paper dollars.

The congress then stated the value of it, upon an average, at forty for one; amounting in the whole to five millions of silver dollars, or one million and a quarter sterling. This they did, by resolving to receive one silver dollar in lieu of forty paper ones, in the payment of taxes. This was probably allowing more Edition: current; Page: [300] than the full value for the paper; because, by all accounts, the bills passed from hand to hand, in private transactions, at sixty or seventy for one.

The designs of the inhabitants, in preserving its credit as much as they can, are very good and laudable. The designs are, that they may have a fixed and certain medium, both for external and internal commerce; that every man may have an equal profit from his industry and for his commodities; that private and public debts may be justly paid; and that every man may pay an equal and proportional share of the public expenses. And this is their design in preventing its increase; because it is impossible, if the quantity is increased, to prevent the depreciation of the whole in circulation.

They realize it in various ways. Some have lent it to the public, and received loan-office certificates for it, upon interest, which are to be paid in proportion to their value in silver at the time of their dates. Some purchase with it the produce of the country, which they export to the West Indies and to Europe; and, by this means, supply the French and Spanish fleets and armies, both upon the continent of America and in the West India Islands. Others purchase merchandises imported with it; others purchase bills of exchange upon France, Spain, &c.; others purchase silver and gold with it; and others purchase houses and lands. Others have paid their debts with it, to such a degree, that the people of America were never so little in debt, in their private capacities, as at present.

XV.

Your fifteenth quære is, “Does not the English army lay out its pay in America? At how much can the yearly benefit be calculated? Are not the prisoners provided for in America? Who has the care of their maintenance? How was Burgoyne’s army supplied?”

When the English army was in Boston, they bought all that they could, and left considerable sums there in silver and gold. So they did at Rhode Island. Since they have been in New York, they have purchased every thing they could, of provisions and fuel, on Long Island, Staten Island, New York Island, and Edition: current; Page: [301] in those parts of the States of New York and New Jersey where they have been able to carry on any clandestine traffic. When they were in Philadelphia, they did the same; and General Howe tells you, that he suspects that General Washington, from political motives, connived at the people’s supplying Philadelphia, in order essentiallly to serve his country, by insinuating it into large sums of silver and gold. They are doing the same now, more or less, in South Carolina and Georgia; and they cannot go into any part of America, without doing the same.

The British prisoners, in the hands of the Americans, receive their clothing chiefly from the English; and flags of truce are permitted to come out from their lines, for this purpose. They receive their pay, also, from their master, and spend the most of it where they are; they also purchase provisions in the country, and pay for them in hard money.

I am not able to ascertain exactly the yearly benefit; but it must be considerable; and the addition now of a French fleet and army to supply, will make a great addition of cash and bills of exchange, which will facilitate commerce and privateering. And the more troops and ships Great Britain and France send to America, the greater will this resource necessarily be to the Americans.

XVI.

The sixteenth inquiry is, “Who loses most by desertion? Do the English and German deserters serve voluntarily and well in the American army? How can those who do not enter into the army subsist?”

These questions I answer with great pleasure. There has been, from the beginning of the war to this day, scarcely an example of a native American’s deserting from the army to the English. There have been, in the American army, some scattering Scotch, Irish, and German soldiers; some of these have deserted, but never in great numbers; and among the prisoners they have taken, it is astonishing how few they have ever been able to persuade, by all their flatteries, threatenings, promises, and even cruelties, to enlist into their service.

The number of deserters from them has been all along considerably Edition: current; Page: [302] more. Congress have generally prohibited their officers from enlisting deserters; for some particular services permission has been given, and they have served well.

Those who do not enlist into the army have no difficulty to subsist. Those of them who have any trades, as weavers, tailors, smiths, shoemakers, tanners, curriers, carpenters, bricklayers, in short, any trade whatsoever, enter immediately into better business than they ever had in Europe, where they gain a better subsistence and more money; because tradesmen of all denominations are now much wanted; those who have no trade, if they are capable of any kind of labor, are immediately employed in agriculture, &c., labor being much wanted, and very dear.

I am not able to tell the precise numbers that have deserted; but if an hundred thousand were to desert, they would find no difficulty in point of subsistence or employment, if they can and will work.

XVII.

The seventeenth inquiry is, “Whether we have any information that we can rely on, concerning the population? Has it increased or diminished, since the war?”

In some former letters, I have made some observations upon the subject of the increase of mankind in America.

In the year 1774 there was much private conversation among the members of congress, concerning the number of souls in every Colony. The delegates of each were consulted, and the estimates made by them were taken down as follows:—

In New Hampshire 150,000
Massachusetts 400,000
Rhode Island 59,678
Connecticut 192,000
New York 250,000
New Jersey 130,000
Pennsylvania and Delaware 350,000
Maryland 320,000
Virginia 640,000
North Carolina 300,000
South Carolina 225,000
Total 3,016,678
Edition: current; Page: [303]

This, however, was but an estimate, and some persons have thought there was too much speculation in it. It will be observed, that Georgia was not represented in the first congress, and, therefore, is not included in the estimate.

In a pamphlet published in England about a year ago, entitled, “A Memorial to the Sovereigns of Europe, on the present State of Affairs, between the Old and New World,” written by Mr. Pownall, a member of parliament, and formerly Governor of Massachusetts, and Lieutenant-Governor of New Jersey, we are told, that “The Massachusetts had, in the year 1722, ninety-four thousand inhabitants; in 1742, one hundred and sixty-four thousand; in 1751, when there was a great depopulation, both by war and the smallpox, one hundred and sixty-four thousand four hundred and eighty-four; in 1761, two hundred and sixteen thousand; in 1765, two hundred and fifty-five thousand five hundred; in 1771, two hundred and ninety-two thousand; in 1773, three hundred thousand.

In Connecticut, in 1756, one hundred and twenty-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-four; in 1774, two hundred and fifty-seven thousand three hundred and fifty-six. These numbers are not increased by strangers, but decreased by wars and emigrations to the westward and to other States; yet they have nearly doubled in eighteen years.

In New York, in 1756, ninety-six thousand seven hundred and seventy-six; in 1771, one hundred and sixty-eight thousand and seven; in 1774, one hundred and eighty-two thousand two hundred and fifty-one.

In Virginia, in 1756, one hundred and seventy-three thousand three hundred and sixteen; in 1764, two hundred thousand; in 1774, three hundred thousand.

In South Carolina, in 1750, sixty-four thousand; in 1770, one hundred and fifteen thousand.

In Rhode Island, in 1738, fifteen thousand; in 1748, twenty-eight thousand four hundred and thirty-nine.

As there never was a militia in Pennsylvania before this war, with authentic lists of the population, it has been variously estimated on speculation. There was a continual importation for many years of Irish and German emigrants, yet many of these settled in other provinces; but the progress of population, in the ordinary course, advanced in a ratio between that of Virginia Edition: current; Page: [304] and that of Massachusetts. The city of Philadelphia advanced more rapidly,—it had, in 1749, two thousand and seventy-six houses; in 1753, two thousand three hundred; in 1760, two thousand nine hundred and sixty-nine; in 1769, four thousand four hundred and seventy-four; from 1749 to 1753, from sixteen to eighteen thousand inhabitants; from 1760 to 1769, from thirty-one thousand three hundred and eighteen to thirty-five thousand.

There were, in 1754, various calculations and estimates made of the numbers on the continent. The sanguine made the numbers one million and a half; those who admitted less speculation into the calculation, but adhered closer to facts and lists as they were made out, stated them at one million two hundred and fifty thousand. Governor Pownall thinks that two million one hundred and forty-one thousand three hundred and seven would turn out nearest to the real amount in 1774. But what an amazing progress, which in eighteen years has added a million to a million two hundred and fifty thousand, although a war was maintained in that country for seven years of the term! In this view, one sees a community unfolding itself, beyond any example in Europe.

Thus, you have the estimates made by the gentlemen in congress, in 1774, and that of Governor Pownall for the same epocha. That made in congress is most likely to be right. If, in their estimate, some States were rated too high, it has been since made certain that others were too low.

But, admitting Mr. Pownall’s estimate to be just, the numbers have grown since 1774 so much, notwithstanding the war and the interruption of migrations from Europe, that they must be wellnigh three millions. If the calculation made by the members of congress was right, the numbers now must be nearer four millions than three millions and a half.

I have observed to you, in a former letter, that the Massachusetts Bay has been lately numbered, and found to have increased in numbers as much as in former periods, very nearly.

I now add, that in Delaware, which in 1774 was estimated at thirty thousand, upon numbering the people since, they appeared to be forty thousand.

Pennsylvania is undoubtedly set too low in both estimates.

Edition: current; Page: [305]

XVIII.

Question eighteenth. “Do sufficient tranquillity, contentment, and prosperity reign in those places where the war does not rage? Can one sufficiently subsist there without feeling the oppression of the taxes? Does plenty abound there? Is there more than is necessary for consumption? Are the people well affected and encouraged to pursue the war and endure its calamities? or is there poverty and dejection?”

There has been more of this tranquillity and contentment, and fewer riots, insurrections, and seditions throughout the whole war, and in the periods of its greatest distress, than there was for seven years before the war broke out, in those parts that I am best acquainted with. As to subsistence, there never was or will be any difficulty. There never was any real want of any thing but warlike stores and clothing for the army, and salt and rum both for the army and the people; but they have such plentiful importations of these articles now, that there is no want, excepting of blankets, clothing, and warlike stores for the army.

The taxes are rising very high, but there never will be more laid on than the people can bear, because the representatives who lay them tax themselves and their neighbors in exact proportion. The taxes indeed fall heaviest upon the rich and the higher classes of people.

The earth produces grain and meat in abundance for the consumption of the people, for the support of the army, and for exportation.

The people are more universally well affected and encouraged to pursue the war than are the peo