Adams Papers

Cotton Tufts to John Adams, 10 October 1782

Cotton Tufts to John Adams

Octob. 10. 1782

My Dear Sr

I this day received your Favour of the 17th. Augst. Ultimo.1 I find that your mind is much distressed with the Accounts you have received of the almost despaired State of our worthy Friend Mr. Cranch. I have given you his Case in a Letter of the 26th. Sept. last,2 which will remove your Anxiety—that Letter you will probably receive with this as I am in hopes of getting it to Town before Grinnell sails. I feel the utmost Pleasure when I tell you that he is so far reinstated in his Health as to attend this Week the Inferior3 and General Court both of which are now sitting. I shall as much as possible influence him to keep from public Business untill he has acquired a due Firmness.

I thank you for your Communications. The Speculation contained in the Courier du Bas Rhin exhibits a Plan which if adopted must I think bring Matters to an Issue. I am much pleased with it, shall translate and insert it in one of the Papers,4 observing the Caution you gave me.

You ask me what are the Sentiments of People with respect to another Matter. I can assure you that the most judicious ascribe great Merit to the Minister. The 19th. of April5 has been considered in most of the Papers as a remarkable Era and as it may be a Satisfaction to find that his Labours are not unnoticed I have enclosed a Transcript from Willis Paper of Sept. 19th.6

My Countrymen have been strangely deluded with hopes of a speedy Peace. I have the pleasure to find my Sentiments have pretty nearly corresponded with the Accounts You have from Time to Time given upon this Subject. By expressing my Sentiments I have frequently subjected myself to Ridicule. But Time has convinced many. And it were to have been wished that the delusive Idea had never have influencd our public Bodies. This has prevented those stable Measures that would have ensured us Success and it has had no small Influence on our Finances. But such is the State of the greater part of Mankind that they must suffer, must feel the Scourge before they can see their Interest and pursue it.

We are now I trust emerging from our Stupidity and are adopting (in this Commonwealth) Measures for restoring the public Credit7 and (though at a late Day) if carried into Execution will open to us a brighter Scene. By Excises and sumptuary Laws a Revenue nearly sufficient for our Purpose may be raised. The General Court are now upon this Plan and I hear that they are almost unanimous in it.

This present Year I have not the honor to be of that Body. The Maneuvres of——8 (whose Profusion I never admired and in the List of whose Flatterers I never was enrolled) fortunately for me, succeeded at the last Election and gave me a Respite from public Business. I however was last Week called by the Joint Ballot of both Houses of Assembly to the Senate. The Unanimity of the Choice would have had the greatest Influence in determining me to accept, had my Family Circumstances favoured it. Sickness in my Family for some Months past and several of them being still in an infirm State induced me to decline accepting the Trust.

In my last I mentiond a Controversy as subsisting between J. T. and J. S.9 It is still carried on with great Acrimony—and will be attended with some disagreable Consequences to particular Persons. How far it will affect the public, Time must determine, from some Anecdotes I have met with I have a more favourable Opinion of the Motives that induced J. S. to take up the Cudgel. I have in my last and in this given You a hint of these Matters, suspecting, that Evidences of the meritorious Services of J. T. to America will be hunted up in Europe. In this Controversy many Characters may first or last be brought into View and among others, there has already been a Thrust at the American Philosophers. Had J. T. remained in Great Britain it might have saved much Trouble, but since he is here it may perhaps be best to canvass the Matter fully.

The Length of my Letters I fear will be disagreable and too much break in upon your important Moments. If so, tell me my Friend and I will amend.

<Revd.> Mr. Smith enjoys a fine State of Health for advanced Life. Mr. Norton Quincy also and other Connections are well. Your Brother Shaw and Sister with their little Son are here on a Visit. They with my Second Self begs to be remembered to you.

May God preserve Your Health & Usefulness. Adieu. Your Aff. Friend & H St.

Having failed of a Conveyance by Grinnell am in hopes of forwading this by the Firebrand; on her Arrival here she was seized as having on Board English Goods. On some Terms or other the Vessell is released but a Number of Goods said to be brought from England and put on board of her after she left the Texel are libelled and will probably be condemned. There is a Spirit prevailing to suppress this Trade.10 A great Number of Seizures of English Goods have been made within several Months past.

The French Fleet are still here, but will shortly remove,11 notwithstanding their Vigilance, we have within six Weeks past suffered greater Losses in the American Seas, than perhaps in any Period.

Our Friend Gen. Warren is elected a Member of Congress.12 I hope that he will accept—but have not as yet heard of his Determination.

Mr. Gerry who is also elected13 I hear will shortly set out for Philadelphia.

RC with one enclosure (Adams Papers); endorsed by John Thaxter: “Dr. Tufts 10. Octr. 1782.” On the enclosure, an “Extract of a Letter from an American Gentleman in Holland, dated July. 2d,” see note 6; and vol. 4:340–341.

1Not found. Tufts was not acknowledging JA’s undated letter to him that has been assigned to Aug. 1782 in vol. 4:369–370, for Tufts’ docketing shows that he received that letter in March 1783.

2Vol. 4:385–388.

3That is, the Inferior Court of Common Pleas.

4JA’s “speculation” suggested that if the League of Armed Neutrality admitted the United States upon the application of the American minister, this would be an important step toward general peace, for it would amount to European recognition of American independence and thus put pressure upon Great Britain to accept it. This acceptance, in turn, would avert probable civil war in Britain itself. The translated piece appeared in the Boston Evening Post for 2 November. See also vol. 4:367, and note 2, written before this item was located.

5The date, in 1782, of Dutch recognition of American independence; see John Thaxter to AA, 9 Oct., note 1, above.

6The Independent Chronicle for this date carried a piece labeled “Extract of a letter from an American gentleman in Holland, dated July 2,” which said in part: “America may felicitate herself in the success of her Minister in Holland, whose unwearied exertions to bring about this important event have answered the wishes of her best friends, and whose wisdom, patience and perseverance have baffled the strongest opposition of her enemies.” The letter went on to enumerate the difficulties that had to be overcome in achieving Dutch recognition, stressing that it was not enough to appeal just to the Dutch government, but that a direct appeal had to be made to the people. “Mr. Adams was admirably well adapted to answer these purposes.”

7From Jan. 1781 to March 1782 the state passed a number of measures designed to reduce the amount of circulating paper and to provide for payments in hard currency. See vol. 4:66; Mass., Acts and Laws description begins Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts [1780–1805], Boston, 1890–1898; 13 vols. description ends , 1780–1781, p. 6–11, 488–490, 533–535, 893–894.

8Probably John Hancock (see Richard Cranch to JA, 10 Oct., above). Weymouth instead elected Nathaniel Bailey, who had not served the previous year (Independent Chronicle, 6 June).

9The newspapers of the day saw numerous communications defending and attacking John Temple and James Sullivan, and Sullivan brought charges of Toryism against Temple before the General Court. For more details and the larger political implications of the quarrel, see vol. 4:386–387 and accompanying note and references.

10In June and July Congress recommended that the states take action against illicit trade in British goods and provided for condemnation of ships and cargoes to the benefit of the state in which the capture occurred (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 22:341, 392–393). In November, Massachusetts altered two of its laws of the preceding year, particularly to award half the proceeds of condemnation to the state (Mass., Acts and Laws description begins Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts [1780–1805], Boston, 1890–1898; 13 vols. description ends , 1782–1783, p. 84–91).

11See Ronnay to AA, 2 Oct., note 2, above.

12Increase Sumner’s refusal to serve in Congress in addition to his other duties, and resignations from that body by Jonathan Jackson and John Lowell, caused the General Court on 24 Oct. to elect as replacements Nathaniel Gorham, Samuel Holten, James Warren, and Stephen Higginson. Warren was chosen by the smallest vote; he never attended and resigned on 4 June 1783 (Records of the States, Microfilm, Mass. A.1b, Reel No. 10, Unit 3, p. 210, 252, 302–303; Burnett, ed., Letters of Members description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress, Washington, 1921–1936; 8 vols. description ends , 7:lxix). In a letter to JA of 1 Nov., Warren, referring to himself, wrote: “I believe the last must stay at Home. And Cultivate his Farm” (Warren-Adams Letters description begins Warren-Adams Letters: Being Chiefiy a Correspondence among John Adams, Samuel Adams, and James Warren, (Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections, vols. 72–73), Boston, 1917–1925; 2 vols. description ends , 2:183). See AA to JA, 13 Nov. and note 3, below.

13After serving in Congress from 1776 to 1781, Gerry was elected once again in June 1782 (Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774–1949, Washington, 1950. description ends description begins Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774–1949, Washington, 1950. description ends , p. 39, 1204; Burnett, ed., Letters of Members description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress, Washington, 1921–1936; 8 vols. description ends , 7:lxviii).

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