To Elbridge Gerry?
Braintree August 27th. 1779
My dear Sir
I have written, many Times to you, Since I left you, but have never received one Line, except that which accompanied my Commission, which I received at the Same Time.1
Are you of the Board of Treasury Still?2 If you are, I believe I must transmit to you my Accounts and Vouchers, and beg the favour of you to get them passed. I wish to have this Affair off my Mind, which will then be at Ease. If there is a Ballance due to me, I have abandoned my Family and Affairs, so long that I have Occasion enough for it. If the Ballance is due from me, I must pay it, if able, if not I must borrow it.
This will go, I Suppose by the new Plenipo. or the new secretary, who are good Sort of Men. You will be pleased I fancy with their Conversation. They are Sensible Folk, and of Rank.
I am about to assist in the Formation of a new Constitution—a Subject which has been, out of my Head, so long, that I have forgotten, most of the Reflections I ever had about it. Cant you give Us, a few Hints? Your Children, are to have the Benefit of the good, and the Injury of the Evil, that may be in it, as well as mine. You are therefore as much bound as I, to help lay the foundation stones, because you have, or ought to have, as many Children as I.
Seems to me, you wise folks, have managed foreign Affairs, some what curiously, but deep and humble Submission, becomes Us foolish ones.
Dont you intend to Appoint a secretary to the new Commission at Versailles? Dont you intend to appoint Consuls, or a Consull to manage, maritime and commercial Affairs? If you dont there will be, more Trouble for you, e’er long.
Dft (Adams Papers); docketed in an unknown hand: “J Adams to Elbridge Gerry Aug 27th 1779.” The letter’s presence in the Adams Papers suggests that it was not sent; there is no Letterbook copy.
1. The editors know of letters from JA to Gerry of 9 July (vol. 6:273, calendar entry; JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 4:149–150), 27 Nov., and 5 Dec. 1778 (both above). If this letter is to Gerry, JA refers to Gerry’s letter of 3 Dec. 1777, but Gerry also wrote on 8 Dec. 1777 and 25 Jan. 1778 (vol. 5:343–344, 349–350, 394–398). All of those letters, however, were received before JA left America in Feb. 1778. The only letter known to have been written to JA by Gerry while JA was in France was dated 12 May 1779 (Adams Papers), and was not received until JA returned to Paris in 1780. For that letter, see Tristram Dalton to JA, 13 May (above, and note 1) and JA’s reply to Gerry of 23 Feb. 1780 (below).
2. Gerry had not served on the Board since 1776, according to standing committee lists compiled by Worthington C. Ford for 1777, 1778, and 1779 in JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends .