Adams Papers

From John Adams to Arthur Lee, 7 March 1779

To Arthur Lee

Passy Feb. [i.e. March]> 7. 17791


I should be obliged to you to let Mr. Franklin take a Copy of our Letter to the Comte De Vergennes, relative to sending a Naval Force to America.2

The original Draught you have, which I should be obliged to you to send to me at Nantes after Mr. Franklin has taken a Copy of it, as I have no Copy of it, at all. I am with great Respect, your humble servant

John Adams

RC (MH-H: Lee Papers); docketed by Arthur Lee: “This letter was deliverd to me open by young Mr. Franklin in the presence of Henry Grand at Passy March the 20th. 1779. Informing me at the same time that it was a letter from Mr. Adams desiring a Copy of that letter which the Commissioners wrote to Count de Vergennes relative to sending a <[several?] Ships> naval force to America. Paris. March. 20. 1779.” Below this passage there appears an “A” and the signature “H. Ford.” The “A” is apparently by Arthur Lee, but the reason for Hezekiah Ford’s signature is unclear unless he was acting as a witness to verify Lee’s docketing.

1This is the last letter that JA is known to have written at Passy. On 8 March he and JQA set out for Nantes, where they arrived on the 12th (JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 2:356). In preparation for their journey Benjamin Franklin had issued a passport on 2 March for JA’s books (PHi), and a second on 7 March to provide safe passage for JA and JQA (CtY: Franklin Papers). The reason for the delay in presenting this letter to Arthur Lee is uncertain, but it may have been because 20 March marked Lee’s first visit to Passy since JA’s departure.

2The Commissioners to Vergennes, [ante 20] Dec. 1778 – [ante 9] Jan. 1779 (above). It is unclear to what draft JA is referring. It could be to Arthur Lee’s original draft (MH-H: Lee Papers) or to one that is no longer extant. There is no indication that Lee ever complied with JA’s request. For the various drafts and copies, see the editorial and descriptive notes to that letter.

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