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John Adams autobiography, part 2, "Travels, and Negotiations," 1777-1778
sheet 35 of 37, 10 - 15 July 1778

Britain has but one wise plan of Policy, which is as obvious, as it is prudent, and that is, instantly to make with America, such a Treaty as France has made. But she will not see it. She is yet too proud and vain, and the Consequences of her blindness must be, that instead of the dominant Power of Europe, which she has been but for a little while, she will dwindle down into a Power of the second order: as Spain, which under Charles the fifth was the first Power in Europe, by a similar quarrell with her Colonies Provinces, weakened herself to such a degree as to fall down into the middle Class of Powers, and has never yet been able to regain her Ascendancy. This is the established order of Things, when a Nation has grown to such an height of Power as to become dangerous to Mankind, she never fails to loose her Wisdom, her Justice and her Moderation, and with these she never fails to loose her Power; which however returns again, if those Virtues return.
I shall be under great Obligations to you, Sir, if you will continue your favours by every opportunity. Your Newspapers,tho' badly printed, are very valuable here. I am with great respect &c.
John Adams.
[to] Hon. Major General Heath Boston.
To His Excellency Monsieur De Sartine.
We have had the honour of your Excellencys Letter of the Fifth Instant relative to Captain Jones, and We redily consent that he should be at your Excellencys disposition and shall be happy if his Services may be in any respect Usefull to the designs your Excellency may have in Contemplation. We have the honour to be with the greatest respect, your Excellency's &c.
B. Franklin, Arthur Lee, John Adams.
The Letter to which this is an Answer, marks the first conception of the Plan which was afterwards carried into Execution under Jones in the Bonhomme Richard.
We received from Mr. Williams the following order,
Mr. Cassoul
Deliver to Mr. J. D. Schweighauser the following Goods taking his Receipt for the same, on Account of the Honourable Ministers Plenipotentiary of the United States, viz. one hundred and Ninety Six Swivels, Forty nine Cases of Arms, one Case of Duck, two Bales of Linnen,

Eight Cases of Medicines, Two Barrells of Do. According to Bills of Lading from Holland.... Fifty Five Cases of Sabres according to Bills of Lading from Dunkirk, Two Thousand Eight hundred and forty Six Suits of Soldiers Cloaths, according to my Invoice, Four Bales of Do. according to Mr. Monthieu's Invoice. One hundred and seventy one Sheets of Copper to be weighed. Forty five Casks of Flints. All the Arms and Furniture repaired and unrepaired in the Magazine, taking an Inventory of the same, and sixty three Barrells of Beef. Those of the above Articles which stand in my name in the Bureau D'Entrepot you will see transferred to Mr. Schweighauser, and me discharged therefrom, at the time of Delivery.
I am your humble Servant
Signed J. Williams Jr.


We have received several late Letters from you, and two this morning by the hand of Captain Amiel, containing abundant Testimonies of your good Character.

As We have never entertained the least doubt, of your Probity or Honor, or of your unblemished reputation, you have given yourself much trouble without necessity, and used as the Saying is, In Re non dubi, testibus non necessariis.

It is true We received a Letter, in which some regret was expressed that We had addressed Mr. Amiel and his Papers to you, and the reason assigned was, because you had the Letter Writer thought you had made yourself "somewhat too busy, in some particular matters," but this you may be assured never made the least Impression upon Us, to your disadvantage.

In one of those Letters We received the Bond, Instructions and Commission returned.

If you should write to America, the News as it occurs, you may write to the Honourable James Warren Esqr., Speaker of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts Bay, at Boston,--or to The Honourable Committee of foreign Affairs, at Congress, or to both. If you can send any English Newspapers they will be always acceptable. But We would wish You to observe one Rule, which is, not to write any News to America that is not well authenticated, because there are so many Misrepresentations floating about in the World, that if these should be written as they occurr, to a distant Country, they would tend to confound and mislead the People.

The American Seamen you mention, We wish to have put into some Employment, by which they may earn their Bread and save Expences to their Country, as soon as possible, and it is indifferent to Us, whether it is at

Dunkirk, Brest, or Nantes. We are &c.

B. Franklin, Arthur Lee, John Adams

[to] Mr. Francis Coffyn at Dunkirk.


As We understand the Boston in her last Cruise, did not sail so well as formerly, We apprehend this Alteration has been made, by some change in her Ballast: for which reason, you are directed, if you judge it necessary, to take out your present Ballast; to apply to Mr. Schweighauser at Nantes, and take from him such Articles, as he may have to send to America, which may be stowed away in your Ship, without hindrance to her sailing or fighting, and to take from him also, a quantity of Lead, to be used as Ballast untill you arrive in America, and then delivered to the Continental Agent, informing Congress or the Navy Board by Letter.

Upon the Receipt of this Letter, you are then to join Captain Whipple and to pursue his orders, respecting your future Cruises and Voyage to America. If Lieutenant Simpson of the Ranger should apply to you for a Passage to America, in the Boston, you will afford him Accommodations according to his Rank. We are &c.

B. Franklin, Arthur Lee, John Adams

[to] Captain Tucker


You will putt on board the Boston Frigate such Articles as Captain Tucker shall inform you he can take to America, and among other Things you are desired to furnish him, if it is in your Power, with a quantity of Lead.... As this Article is much wanted in America, and is excellent for Ballast, you are desired to furnish him as much as he can carry and you can conveniently supply. We are &c.

B. Franklin, Arthur Lee, John Adams.

[to] Mr. J. D. Schweighauser.


We have ordered Captain Tucker, to join you, in your future Cruises and Voyage to America. -- You will get to Sea, with all possible Expedition.

B. Franklin, Arthur Lee, John Adams.

[to] Captain Whipple

Dined at Chatou with Mr. Bertin, the Minister of State. Went to see the Park where We rambled till We were weary. We received from Mr. De Sartine the following Letter,  [illegible in french.

Versailles the 14. July 1778
Notwithstanding the Precautions I have taken, Gentlemen, to assure the Subsistance of the Inhabitants of the Islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, who, in the present Circumstances, will receive little or no Supplies sent by the Commerce of France, it may happen that the Interception of one or more, of the Vessells which I have caused to be expedited to those Islands, with Cargoes of Provisions, may reduce their Inhabitants to the greatest distress. And there will no longer be an Opportunity to provide a remedy when We shall be informed of the Event.... I have thought that We might depend upon the Assistance of the United States of America, and I have pointed them out, for the case of a pressing Necessity, to the Administrators of the Islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon. -- It will be very agreable to his Majesty, if you concurr, in whatever may depend on you, in procuring such Succour, by recommending to the United States of America and particularly to the Government of Boston, to encourage if it is possible, some Expeditions to those Islands, to carry Eatables to their Inhabitants and supply their Necessities. I have the Honor to be, most perfectly, Gentlemen your most humble and most obedient Servant
De Sartine
[to] The Gentlemen The Deputies of the Congress of the United States of America.
The next day We received another Letter of which the following is a litteral Translation.
Among the English Prisoners detained at Belle Isle, Gentlemen, and proceeding from Vessells detained in the Ports of France, are found the Persons named James Niggins and John Selby, who call themselves Americans, the first of Charlestown in South Carolina, and the other of Baltimore in Maryland: They demand their Liberty, and the means of returning home. According to their declaration, they made heretofore a part of the Crew of the Ship Hancock, arrived from America at the Port of Nantes, in the month of December last, and that Ship having sailed from that Port to return to Charlestown, was taken, at thirty Leagues from Belle Isle by an English Privateer and carried to Falmouth, where to avoid the Press, they consented to remain, on board the Englishman who had made them Prisoners. I pray you to signify to me, whether these Men are known to you, whether you consider them as belonging to the United States of America, whether they have made, or caused to be made

Cite web page as: John Adams autobiography, part 2, "Travels, and Negotiations," 1777-1778, sheet 35 of 37 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/
Original manuscript: Adams, John. John Adams autobiography, part 2, "Travels, and Negotiations," 1777-1778. Part 2 is comprised of 37 sheets and 7 insertions; 164 pages total. Original manuscript from the Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
Source of transcription: Butterfield, L.H., ed. Diary and Autobiography of John Adams. Vol. 4 Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1961.
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