Adams Papers

From John Adams to Edmé Jacques Genet, 8 June 1778

To Edmé Jacques Genet

[Passy, ante 8 June 1778]

I do myself, the Honour to transmit you a Small Bundle of Newspapers, for your Perusal, out of which you will Select any Thing that you think proper for Publication, in your very valuable Collection of Affairs D’Angleterre et L’Amerique.1

Looking over the Remembrancer, for the Year 1775,1 found to my Surprize, having never seen this Remembrancer before, two Letters from a Gentleman in the Province of Massachusetts Bay, to his Friend in London, one dated Feb. 10 1775 and the other Jany 21. 1775. They are found in Pages 10.11 and 12 of the Remembrancer for that Year.2

These Letters were written by me, and as I kept no Copies of them and never heard of their Publication, I had wholly forgotten them, but finding them in this Work, I recollect them very well.

If you think them worth inserting in your Collection [. . .][Ameri?]cans acted with Frankness,[. . .] broke out, and, with the Utmost faithfullness a [. . .] informed our Friends in England, what their Ministers were about and what would be the certain Consequence of their Temerity. The Letters you will see were written in great Haste and without the least Reserve. The History of the Events of War, from the Date of these Letters to this Day, has been no more nor less than a Completion of the Prophecies contained in them.

In Page 24 and onwards to the End of Page 32, and again from Page 45. to Page 54 you will find an History of the Dispute with America; from its origin in 1754, to the Present Time.3

This is a brief Abstract of a series of Letters which were also written by me, in the Winter of the Year 1775, the Tendency of all which was to shew, the Ruinous Tendency of the Measures of the British Administration, to convince the Nation of the Necessity of changing their System, and if they did not, but persisted in it and attempted to carry it into Execution by Force of Arms, it would infallibly end in the total Loss of their Collonies.

[. . .][that?] Time, or not, they have since had some Cause to consider. But they will not consider, and they will probably persist in the indulgence of their Passions, untill they shall be reduced to Weakness and Distress enough. France has no Reason to regrett this, for She will gain, by every Degree of Wealth and Power that Britain throws away, in this Contention, especially in that particular Branch which has been her Pride and Glory, Commerce, and the Dominion of the sea.

This Publication, is a full Confutation of all the Calumnies against Us, both in Parliament and Newspapers, that We concealed our Designs of Independency, and professed to have no such Designs.

In this Publication and in many others, as well as in Multitudes of private Letters, they were frankly told that however distant the People then were from Wishing Independency, yet if they once commenced Hostilities against Us, it would be impossible to restrain the Americans from cutting asunder forever, the Ligaments, which bound the two Countries together. [. . .]. If you should think of doing it, [. . .] be glad to see it before it is printed as there are many [inac]curacies in the Print, which ought to be corrected.

I have the Honour to be, with the Utmost Gratitude for the Pains you have taken, in communicating our Affairs to the World, sir your most Obedient humble servant

John Adams

RC (PWacD: Feinstone Coll., on deposit PPAmP); the top of each page has been damaged by fire, with the loss of the dateline and portions of several sentences.

1Affaires de l’Angleterre et de l’Amérique was an irregular, clandestine publication of the French Foreign Ministry that was ostensibly published in Antwerp (Anvers) but actually printed in Paris from early 1776 through late 1779. Its editor was Edmé Jacques Genet, director of the Foreign Ministry’s translators bureau and father of Edmond Charles, controversial minister to the United States from the French Republic in 1793 (for a sketch of the two Genets as well as a short survey of Affaires, see JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 2:354–355; see also Gilbert Chinard’s brief examination of Affaires and its place in French policy in Newberry Library Bulletin, 2d ser., 8:225–236 [March 1952]).

Seventeen volumes of Affaires were published, divided into 2 series: “Journal” and “Lettres.” It should be noted, however, that as numbered internally there are only 15 volumes, both series having separate volumes numbered 11 and 12. The “Journal” was intended as an account of the progress of the Revolution from 1776, but with some earlier material, and appeared in 82 cahiers (actually 79 because of a misnumbering that omitted Nos. 45, 46, and 47) and made up parts of vols. 1–6 and all of vol. 8 and its separate volumes numbered 11 and 12. The “Lettres,” supposedly from a Dutch banker in London to a friend in Antwerp containing the latest news from England together with current letters from America, appeared in 61 cahiers and made up the remaining parts of vols. 1–6 and all of vols. 9, 10, and 13–15, plus its separate volumes numbered 11 and 12.

Because of the difficulty in determining, particularly in regard to the “Journal,” the point at which one cahier ends and another begins, citations of each series of Affaires will take the following form: for “Journal,” reference will be made to volume and page number; for “Lettres,” volume, cahier, and page number will be indicated. In all cases the guide will be Paul Leicester Ford’s collation of Affaires in PMHB description begins Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. description ends , 13:222–226 (July 1889).

2The two “Letters,” for which JA gives the correct page numbers, were printed in John Almon’s Remembrancer or Impartial Repository of Public Events (London, 1775; see also vol. 2:214–216, 391–393). Despite JA’s interest in having them reprinted and Genet’s apparent agreement expressed in his letter to JA of 8 June (below), the two “Letters” never appeared in Affaires.

3This piece, for which JA gives the correct page numbers and title as it appeared in Almon’s Remembrancer, was composed of extracts from Novanglus, Nos. II–VI, and never appeared in Affaires (see also vol. 2:233–306).

Index Entries