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The following letters of John Adams to Samuel Adams and of John Quincy Adams to Arthur Lee and George Bancroft are printed from the original manuscripts in the Bancroft collection in the New York Public Library. Together with five others from John Adams (omitted here because printed elsewhere) they were brought together by Bancroft and bound for him in a single quarto volume.
JOHN ADAMS TO SAMUEL ADAMS.
PHILADELPHIA August 18, 1776 DEAR SIR
I had the pleasure of a line from you, at Princetown, and yesterdays Post brought me another from New York. I thank you for this Attention, and for the encouraging account you give of the State of our affairs at New York and Ti[conderoga). The last is agreeable to the official Letters we have from G. Gates who has at last sent Us a general Return of the Army and Navy upon a more distinct, accurate and intelligible Plan, than any which I have seen before. Among other Particulars which are new, is a Return of the State of the Hospital, in one column the Number admitted in July, in another the Number discharged, the Ballance remains; by which it appears that between 4 and 500 got well in that Month, and he had distinguished the Regiment to which they belong, by which it appears that the Pensilvania, N. Jersey and N. York Battallions, are as Sickly in Proportion to their Numbers, as the N. England ones.
Confederation has not been mentioned since you left us [on 12 August). We have spent the Time upon the two old Bones of Contention, the old Gen. [David Wooster] and the Commodore [Esek Hopkins). The first we voted blameless,* the last we voted censurable,t because the Reasons given for not complying litterally with his Instructions, were by no Means Satisfactory. My two Colleagues differed in opinion from me upon these Questions concerning the ad[miral?] 6 Colonies Ay 3, No 3 divided. I am afraid this will hurt the Fleet, but Time must determine. We have ordered the old Hero to his Command.
Before the Receipt of your Letter (14 August), what you advise concerning Meigs and Dearborne was done. I The Board of War recommended it and it was done, but not without opposition from 5 or 6 Colonies, who thought that there ought to be no distinctions made, but a general exchange of the Prisoners of Arnolds Party, or none.
Let me intreat you, Sir, upon your Return to Watertown, to promote an Inquiry concerning the Massachusetts Forces. Let a list be collected and pub
Journals of Congress, 17 Aug. 1776. † Ibid., 15 Aug. 1776. # Ibid., 18 Aug. 1776.
lished of all the Regiments raised in that State, The Names of all the officers; let the Regiment be numbered and the officers ranked. let us know for what Periods they were inlisted.
Let me suggest one thing more, I am in doubt whether our Province have had returned to them all the Powder they furnished the Continent from the Town Stocks, as well as the Provincial Magazines, pray inquire and if they have not let it be demanded. There is by a Return from G. Ward 3 or 400 Barrells of Powder there belonging to the Continent, and if this opportunity is not embraced, another so fair may not present itself.
I wish to know the Armed Vessells in the Service of the Province, their Number, Size, Guns, Weight of Metal, Number of Men &c.
As soon as the G. Court shall assemble I hope you will promote an Election of Some fresh Delegates, at least of one, to take my Place. Mr. Hawley I hope will be perswaded to come; it will be a fine season to have the small-pox here, and Rush will insure him through, almost without a sigh or Groan. Warren is the next, Dana the third, and Lowell the fourth, if the Province should approve the Plan of choosing Nine. These four will make up the number. But if there are objections to these, there are enough others.
Some of us here, are tremblingly alive, at the Prospect of a Battle, but whether it will be fought this year, or not, I cant say. The two gratefull Brothers may loose Reputation with their fellow Tyrants, if they dont attack, but I hope they will loose more, if they do. My most respectful Compliments to your good Lady. I am, your
Friend and Servant
JOHN ADAMS. Hon. S. ADAMS Esq.
THE SAME TO THE SAME.
Passy Novr. 27. 1778 MY DEAR SIR
Yesterday the B. Parliament met. The ad of Decr. We shall have the Speech, We hope to make Inferences from it of the Intentions of Spain, as well as great B.
Among the innumerable Falsehoods that English Emmissaries propagate every Year to keep up the Spirits of Stockjobbers and others One has constantly been that Russia will take a Part with them. This is repeated lately. But I have taken some Pains to inform myself, and I think you may depend upon it, that there is an Understanding between this Court and that of Russia, and this last has taken an Engagement with the former, not to assist England in any way. There is also a good Understanding with Prussia. In short England has not and cannot obtain a Single Ally in all Europe.
Nobody pretends to penetrate the Mysteries of Spanish Councils: but the late order from Court to take the names of all Foreign Merchants in the Kingdom, and the other to admit all armed Vessells to bring in their Prizes condemn and sell them in the Ports of the Kingdom are considered as preparatory Steps, and the
Edict of the K. of the two Sicilies, the eldest Son of the K. of Spain, to admit the American Flagg into his Ports, is looked upon as an unequivocal Indication of the Designs of Spain.
The French Marine has hitherto shewn itself in every Encounter equal at least to the British, in the Bravery and Skill both of officers and men: But the French Merchants have not exerted themselves in Privateering so much as the English, and have not had so much success.
What Reinforcement will be sent to the Comte D'Estaing, I cannot say: But of one thing I am sure that the only wise method of conducting the War would be to send a clear Superiority of naval Force to America, an opinion which has been suggested and will be urged when it ought.
What shall I say on the subject of Money? We can get no answer from Mr. B— respecting the Contract. I shudder for fear our Army should not be well supplied in the approaching winter. But can do no more than has been doneand knowing what they have done and suffered, I am at no loss t[o sa]y will do and suffer, but I should be more happier if I was more sure they would be warm.
Crossing the ocean does not Cure a Man of his Anxiety. But we are contending for as great an object as ever Men had in View, and great Difficulties and Dangers will lay the Foundation of a free and flourishing People broad and deep, in great virtues and abilities. I am my dear Sir your
Friend and Servant
JOHN ADAMS Hon. SAMUEL ADAMS Esqr
The Same TO THE SAME.
BRAINTREE August 1779. DEAR SIR
Since my arrival, I have been asked a Thousand Questions which may all be answered by the inclosed 6 copies of Letters which passed between the Minister for foreign affairs and me. I have transmitted them to Mr. Lovel and submitted them to his Discretion to lay them before Congress, or make what use of them, he shall think the public good Requires. As you are a Member too, I send another Copy to you, and am your
JOHN ADAMS. Hon Sam ADAMS Esq.
Member of Congress.
The SAME TO THE SAME.
Paris Feby. 28th 1780 DEAR SIR,
The Marquis, who loves us, will deliver you this, He will tell you everything. Arbuthnot, Rodney and Walsingham are to be pitted against de la Mott,
Piquet, Guichen and Ternay in the West Indies, so that I hope you will be pretty quiet. Prepare however to co-operate and rout them out of the Continent if possible. Above all let me beg of you to encourage Privateering.
The French will be Superior in the American Seas this Campaign, or I am misinformed, and I have it from good authority. Oh that Spain could be persuaded that Gibralter is to be conquered in America. It is certainly true, and I believe only there. I have written you by Mr. Lee, who goes in the Alliance, and took my Pen now only to give the Marquis a Letter to put into your Hands.
Your Friend in great Haste
JOHN ADAMS Honble SAMUEL ADAMS
Member of Congress.
THE SAME TO THE SAME.
Paris March 18. 1780 DEAR SIR
This will be sent or delivered by the Viscount de Noailles, a Son of the Duke D’Ayen a Brother of the Lady of the Marquis de la Fayette, an amiable and gallant young Nobleman as full of military ardour as the Marquis.
We have this Moment the news of the safe Arrival of a Convoy and Sixty Sail of Merchant Ships of St. Domingo, which is a great event for this Country and
It is also reported that Ten Spanish Ships of the Line with Ten Battalions of Land Forces have Sailed, conjectured to be for N. America.
An Armament is preparing at Brest, of which I ought not to give any other account than one taken from the Amsterdam Gazette of 14 March. It is this. The Comte du Chaffaut Besné (Louis Charles Chaffault de Besné] Lieutenant General of the Naval Armies, has had the Honnour to take Leave of the King at Versailles on Wednesday last, being presented to his Majesty by Mr. De Sartine, Secretary of State.
The Report that orders have been expected on the 29 of Feb, for the officers who are here of all the Regiments which are on the Coasts to join their Regiments by the 15 of March and that Eight Regiments of Infantry are to embark under Command of the Comte de Rochambeau. These Regiments are that of Anhalt whereof the Marquis of Bergen is Colonel in Second; Auvergne, Coll Commandant, the Vicount de Laval, and in Second Comte de Lameth ; Bourbonnois, Colonel Commandant, Le Marquis de Laval, and in Second the Viscount de Rochambeau; Neustrie, Colonel Commandant le Comte de Guibert, and, in Second the Viscount le Veneur; Rouergue, Colonel Commandant the Viscount des Custine, and in Second, the Marquis de Ludie; Royal Corse Colonel Commandant the Marquis du Luc, and in Second the Count de Pontever: Royal-Deux-Ponts, Colonel Commandant the Comte de Deux-Ponts ; Saintonge, Colonel Commandant the Viscount de Berainger, and in Second the Marquis de Themines. It is asserted, there will
be added a Detachment of Artillery, and that the Baron de Viomenil, the Comte de Chattelne and the Comte de Witgenstein, will embark with these Troupes, and they say that the Duke de Lauzun will have the Command of a Body of Twelve hundred Volunteers, and that he will be joined to the Armament under the Command of the Comte de Rochambeau. All these Troupes, as it is believed, will embark at Brest, and will go out under the Convoy of the Comte du Chaffaut de Besné. They Add that he will have more than Thirty Seven Ships of the Line under his Command, destined for an Expedition, whereof the genuine object is yet unknown. Many other Regiments have also orders, to March down nearer to those upon the Sea Coast, and there are many Vessells taken up, upon Freight, for the Service of the King, in the different parts of the Kingdom. The Freight at Havre is 30 Livres a Ton, on Condition that the owner furnish his Vessell for 12 Months. They say that the Prince de Condé will go out and command upon the Coast of Britany, with the Comte de Vaux.
These Rumours presage well and indicate that the Courts of France and Spain begin to see that their true Policy lies in transferring their exertions across the Atlantic, where they will have great advantages and make business brisk, and give fair Play to our Privateers.
I hope everybody will exert themselves in Privateering. This is our Part of
But I Suppose General Washington in the Course of Things will be called to co-operate and he will no doubt be supported and enabled.
JOHN ADAMS. Hon SAMUEL ADAMS
THE SAME TO THE SAME.
AMSTERDAM Septr. 20. 1780 MY DEAR SIR.
Your Favour of the oth of July, is received. Mr. Searle, who is yet at Paris, I hope to see soon here. Am happy to learn that the People of Massachusetts have accepted the Constitution: May they be wise in the choice of their Rulers, and happy under them. The Constitution, and the Address to the People have much Respect shewn them in Europe.
The accounts from various Parts of the Activity and Ardour of the People are very pleasing and promise good success. But I fear that without a clearer Superiority of Naval Strength nothing decisive will be done. The Accounts of Embargoes distress me, because they discourage Trade and Privateering, and I expect more benefit from them than from exertions at Land. Nothing will ever be done to effect untill the Allied Powers apply all their attention to the Destruction of the British Commerce, Transports and Marine. I hope soon to see M. Laurens with a Commission of Plenipotentiary to their high mightinesses. This would be a great political Stroke, and have great effects, many ways.