Adams Papers

From John Adams to the President of the Congress, 1 April 1778

To the President of the Congress

Bourdeaux April 1. 1778


I have the Honour to inform Congress, of my Safe Arrival in this City in the Frigate Boston after a most dangerous, and distressing Voyage of Six Weeks and four Days.

The Situation of Things in Europe is so critical, at this Moment that, notwithstanding I am exhausted with the Fatigues of the Voyage, I am determined to proceed, the Day after Tomorrow, on my Journey to Paris.1

By all that I hear, it seems certain that a Treaty is concluded between his most Christian Majesty and the United States. That this Treaty has been notified to his Britannic Majesty, and that the British Court talk aloud of War: but whether they will declare it, is Yet Uncertain.2

I cannot learn that Great Britain has the least Prospect of obtaining any foreign Troops for a Reinforcement: and the few that may be raised by Subscriptions, in the three Kingdoms, will amount to no great Force.

I shall inclose with this, Such News Papers and Pamphletts as I can obtain:3 and have the Honour to be, with the most dutifull Respect to Congress, sir your most obedient huml sert,

John Adams

RC (P.R.O.: H.C. Adm. 32, Prize Papers, bundle 473). Intended by JA to announce his arrival to the congress, this letter was entrusted to John Bondfield, who placed it aboard the Vidame de Chalons, which was subsequently captured by a British privateer (see Bondfield to JA, 6 April and notes, below). Thus, the first conclusive evidence that JA was in France, other than a newspaper report, did not reach the congress until the arrival of AA’s letter to James Lovell of 30 June, in which she reported receiving JA’s letter of 25 April (Adams Family Correspondence description begins Adams Family Correspondence, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1963-. description ends , 3:17, 51–53, 54).

1JA’s arrival and enthusiastic reception in Bordeaux are chronicled in his Diary and, in more detail, in his Autobiography. He left that city on 4 April, one day late, and arrived at Paris on 8 April, after a “long Journey of near 500 Miles, at the Rate of an hundred Miles a day” (Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 2:293–296; 4:34–41).

JA’s landing at Bordeaux and subsequent arrival at Paris were also reported, with some information not included in either his Diary or Autobiography, in the Nouvelles extraordinaires de divers endroits (commonly known as the Gazette de Leyde) for 21 and 24 April. That paper, edited by Jean Luzac, often contained news from America or material supporting the American effort in Europe, some of which was supplied by C. W. F. Dumas (see Dumas to the Commissioners, 16 June, note 1, below). For a sketch of Luzac and his later relationship with JA, see Adams Family Correspondence description begins Adams Family Correspondence, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1963-. description ends , 4:xiv–xv. The items from the Gazette were translated into English and printed in the Boston Independent Chronicle for 29 Oct.

2France officially notified the British government of the Franco-American treaties in a note presented by the French ambassador on 13 March. The King’s message communicating the note to Parliament announced the recall of the British ambassador and the government’s displeasure at the treaties but went no farther. Seemingly unwilling to enter into open war, the two nations did not begin fighting until 17 June, and then almost tentatively with a naval skirmish off Ushant between the French frigate Belle-Poule and the British frigate Arethusa (Parliamentary Hist. description begins The Parliamentary History of England, from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803, London: Hansard, 1806–1820; 36 vols. description ends , 19:912–914; Bemis, Diplomacy of the Amer. Revolution description begins Samuel Flagg Bemis, The Diplomacy of the American Revolution: The Foundations of American Diplomacy, 1775–1823, New York and London, 1935. description ends , p. 66–67; Mahan, Navies in the War of Amer. Independence description begins Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Major Operations of the Navies in the War of American Independence, Boston, 1913. description ends , p. 61–62).

3Enclosures not found.

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