Adams Papers

From John Adams to James Warren, 18 March 1777

To James Warren

Philadelphia March 18. 1777

My dear sir

I had this Morning the Pleasure of your Favour of Feb. 22. by the Post. This is the first Letter from you Since I left you.

You are anxious to know, what Expectations are to be entertained of foreign Aid. I wish, Sir, it was in my Power to communicate to you, the little that I know of this Matter. But I am under Such Injunctions and Engagements to communicate nothing relative to foreign Affairs that I ought not to do it: and if I was at Liberty, Such is the Risque of Letters by the Post, or any other Conveyance, that it would be imprudent. Thus much I may Say, that We have Letters from Dr Franklin and Mr. Deane; both agree that every Thing is as they could wish, but the Dr had but just arrived, had not been to Paris, and therefore could know nothing of the Cabinet. The noted Dr Williamson1 is arrived full of encouraging Matter, but what Confidence is to be put in him, or what Dependence to be had on his Intelligence I know not. Franklin Deane and Williamson all agree in Opinion that a War will2 take Place. The Reception that is given to our Privateers and Merchantmen, in every Part of the French Dominions, is decisively encouraging. Weaks3 who carried the Dr, took two Prizes. Persons enough offered to purchase them, without Condemnation or Tryal, and to run the Risque of the Illegality of it. Perhaps they may be ransomed. Thus much you may depend on, that you may have any Thing, that France affords, in the Way of Manufactures, Merchandize or Warlike Stores, for Sending for it. I can go no further as yet. Congress has done as much as they ought to do and more than I thought they ought to have done, before they did it.

I will hazard a prophecy for once, and it is this that there will as certainly, be a general War in Europe, as there will be a Kingdom of France or Spain. How Soon it will be, I wont precisely determine but I have no more doubt that it will be within a Year to come than I have that it will be at all.

Enclosed you have a Newspaper,4 which when you have read I wish you would send to the foot of Penn’s Hill. I am my Friend yours &c.

RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); docketed: “Mr J A: Lettr March 18. 1777”; LbC ( (Adams Papers)).

1Silas Deane was certain that Dr. Hugh Williamson of Pennsylvania (1735–1819) was a spy for the British, who left France to report regularly to Lord North. Several of Deane’s letters to the Committee of Secret Correspondence warned Americans that Williamson would betray the American cause. Deane’s charges had no foundation. Actually Williamson had been a loyal supporter of the cause from the beginning. He had studied medicine abroad and was in England and France soliciting funds for an academy in Delaware. The day after JA wrote, the congress named a committee to examine Williamson’s loyalty in the light of the latest letter from Deane. Williamson had returned to the United States at the end of 1776 and soon entered into trade in North Carolina. Later he was a member of the congress and of the Federal Convention from that state (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, Washington, 1889; 6 vols. description ends , 2:153, 198, 214; JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 7:186; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936; 20 vols. plus index and supplements. description ends ).

2The word “certainly” is crossed out here in JA’s Letterbook.

3Capt. Lambert Wickes of the Reprisal (William Bell Clark, Lambert Wickes: Sea Raider and Diplomat, New Haven, 1932, p. 89).

4Not found.

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