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John Adams autobiography, part 2, "Travels, and Negotiations," 1777-1778
sheet 37 of 37, 18 - 25 July 1778

on Occasion of the Operations, with which he is charged, went on board the Frigate. This General Officer has had, even, personally Subjects of Complaint, which have obliged him to enter into Explanations with the Captain. Moreover, when the People disembarked were put on Shore, the Captain employed himself, in causing to be restored to them, all he could of their property, which during their Absence had been in part pillaged by some of the Crew; but it appears that they experience difficulties about their Pay and Subsistence; that they pretend to have a right to Shares in two Prizes sent into L'orient, but renouncing all Pretentions to two others, which have been sent to America. They pretend that they did not engage themselves at Bourdeaux, but for one Cruise, as their Engagement mentions, but the Captain asserts that it ought not to finish, till after the Arrival of the Vessell at Boston, although this is not explained in the Engagement. It will be convenient, Gentlemen, that you give orders upon this Subject to avoid the Expence to which this Contest will give rise, if it should be carried to the Admiralty. I pray you to signify to me, what you would wish to have done upon this Subject, that I may communicate it to the Commissary of the Classes. This Commissary writes me, that he has offered the Captain of the Frigate, all the facilities, which may depend upon him, for the Inlistment of new Volunteers, to replace the others. I have the honour to be, with a perfect Consideration, Gentlemen, your most humble and most obedient Servant
De Sartine.
P.S. Mr. Schweighauser has written me from Nantes, that his Correspondent at Brest, meets with difficulties on the Part of the Admiralty relative to the Sale of the Prizes, made by the Frigate the Ranger. I write to the Officers of the Admiralty, to cause those difficulties to cease, and I give Notice of it to Mr. Schweighauser. D.S.
[to] Mrs. [Messieurs ]Franklin, Lee, et Adams Deputys  [illegible of the United States of North America.
I see, Gentlemen, by my Correspondence, that there are in the Ports of France, several American Vessells, which might be usefully employed for the common cause, and which, nevertheless, appear to remain inactive. I doubt not that the reciprocal Interest will engage you to give such orders as you shall believe necessary, in the present Circumstances. I have the honour to be with great Consideration, Gentlemen, your most humble and most obedient Servant
De Sartine.
Mrs. The Deputies of the United States of America.

Sheet A. This comes in at A sheet 37.

To the Honourable the President of Congress


We have the honour to inform Congress, that the Spy Captain Niles, has arrived at Brest, and brought Us Ratifications of the Treaties with his Most Christian Majesty, which have 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 Ennemies at Sea, it will be safest to let them remain for the present. -- Copies of the Ratifications, We shall have the honour 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'Orvilliere and the British Fleet under Admiral Keppell, are both at Sea, We are in hourly expectation of Intelligence of a Rencounter between them. The Jamaica Fleet, the Windward Islands 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 Keppells Fleet somewhat nearer to an Equality with the French. In the mean time, the Spanish Flota 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 the King of Prussia, seems to be inevitable, as 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 Draughts upon Us.... The Draughts already made, together with the vast expence arising from the Frigates which have been sent here, the Expences of the Commissioners, the Maintenance of your Ministers for Vienna and Tuscany, and of Prisoners who have made their Escapes, the Amount of Cloaths and Munitions of War already sent to America: All these Things considered, We are under great Apprehensions, that our Funds will not be sufficient to answer the Draughts, which We daily expect, for the Interest of Loan Office Certificates, as well as those from Mr. Bingham.

We have the honour to inclose a Copy of a Letter from

Mr. De Sartine, the Minister of State for the Marine, and to request the Attention of Congress to the Subject of it.

We are told in several Letters from the Honourable Committee of foreign Affairs, that We should receive Instructions and Authority, for giving up, on our part, the whole of the Eleventh and twelfth Article of the Treaty of Commerce, proposing as a Condition, to the Court of France, that they on their part should give up the whole of the Twelfth. But unfortunately those 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 Ratifications however, We mentioned this Subject to the Count De Vergennes, and gave him an Extract of the Committees Letter. His answer to Us was, that the Alteration would be readily agreed to, and he ordered his Secretary not to register the Ratification untill it was done. We therefore request that We may be honoured with the Instructions and Authority of Congress, to sett aside these two Articles, as soon as possible, and while the Subject is fresh in memory.

The Letter to Mr. Dumas is forwarded: and in Answer to the Committees Inquiry What is proper for Congress to do for that Gentleman, We beg leave to say, that his extream Activity and Dilligence, 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 Letters to Us, shall be attended to as soon as possible.

We have received also, the Resolution of Congress of Feb. 9. and the Letter of the Committee of the same date,impowering 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 impowered to appoint Consuls 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 Bourdeaux, 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 next 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.

Signed B. Franklin, Arthur Lee,John Adams

In this Letter We inclosed the following Paper.containing information

The Function of Consuls

Is to maintain in their departments, the Priviledges of their Nation according to Treaties

To have Inspection and jurisdiction

I was much amused, among some People here who understand a little English, to hear them puzzling each other with Samples of English Sentences, very difficult to be pronounced by a Frenchman. Among many others I remarked the following and very curious

indeed were the Attempts to pronounce them. "What think the chosen judges?" "I thrust this Thistle through this Thumb." "With an Apple in each hand and a third in my Mouth." But of all the Words I ever heard essayed by a French Man, the Words "General Washington" produced the greatest Variety of difficulties. I know not that I ever heard two Persons pronounce them alike, except the Marquis de La Fayette and his Lady. They had studied and practised them so long that they had mastered the great Subject. In my second Voyage to France, I carried with me a Friend as a private Secretary,Mr. John Thaxter. His name was a new Problem of Pronunciation. I could have filled a Sheet of Paper with the Varieties of Sounds, which these two Names suggested to my French Friends. "VAUGSTAINGSTOUNG" was one of the Sounds for Washington: and "TAUGISTEY," was another for Thaxter. But enough of this in this place.
This day I wrote the following private Letter to Richard Henry Lee Esqr. a Member of Congress from Virginia.
My Dear Sir
Your Favour of the 13 of May was brought me this day, with the Dispatches by Captain Barns. Am much obliged by your friendly Congratulations on my Arrival in France, which was a pleasant Event, after having more than once the prospect of going to the Bottom in the Gulph Stream, and half a dozen times a prospect very nearly as gloomy, that of going Prisoner to England, where I assure you, not withstanding their then pretences of wishing an Accommodation, I should not have failed to have been treated with great Contempt, In dignity and Insult.... We took a fine Prize upon the passage, by which I sent Letters and large bundles of Pamphlets and Newspapers to Congress: but within a few days I have had the Mortification to learn she has been retaken and carried into Hallifax.Tucker, however, in the Boston has taken four other Prizes since, of smaller Value.
In this Quarter of the World, an unforeseen Event, the Death of the Duke of Bavaria, has probably prevented the Courts of Vienna, Berlin and Tuscany, from acknowledging our Independence: but I rather think it will do Us a greater Service than such an Acknowledgment would have been, by keeping from Great Britain all Recruits from other parts of Europe. In the present State of Europe I think it impossible that she should obtain a Regiment from Russia or Germany.

The D march s of Spain are misterious.... She has sent a fresh Ambassador to London, and yet is arming in all her Ports with double dilligence. The Tardiness of this Power, however, may have disagreable Consequences to the Count D'Estaing.... The States General are making their Fleet respectable, but you may be assured, it is not to join Great Britain against America.
In this Kingdom, I have the pleasure to assure you, that I have found an universal favour to America.... I have never seen a French Tory. They tell me, it is the first Time the French Nation ever saw a Prospect of War, with Pleasure.
The only disagreable Circumstances are the vast demands for Money and the slender Funds: and the difficulties of conversing in a language, which is far from being familiar to me.... But with a little English, a little Latin and a constant Application at all Leisure times, which however do not happen so often as I wish, to the French: I make it out to understand and be understood.
I have never yet seen Mr. Beaumarchais, but his Account will be carefully attended to.
Remember me in the most respectfull and affectionate manner, to all good Men, and believe me to be your sincere Friend and most obedient Servant
John Adams.
[to] R. H. Lee

Cite web page as: John Adams autobiography, part 2, "Travels, and Negotiations," 1777-1778, sheet 37 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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