Adams Papers

To John Adams from James Lovell, 14 October 1779

From James Lovell

Octr. 14—79

Dear Sir

I inclose to you a Peice of Intelligence1 perhaps altogether new. The uti possidetis offered by Spain will appear alarming perhaps to some but we are told She acted upon full Knowledge that King George the 3d of England had sworn in his Cabinet that he would not acknowledge our Independence. Spain at least knew that we would never enter into any commercial Treaty without a total relinquishment of the 13 States by Britain: I am glad her offer was rejected. I own I do not like such Experiments.

I do not see how you and the others lately elected to Missions from hence will get immediate Supply but by the Way of Doctr. F—— to whom a Promise will be made of speedy Repayment and also of the Establishment of Funds directly for the Purpose of supporting all Embassies from the United States. I will give you an Account of the Decision upon a Report to be made Tomorrow morning.

Yrs. affectionately


RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Honorable John Adams Boston”; docketed: “Mr Lovell Octr. 14. 1779.”

1Exposé des motifs de la conduite du Roi Très-Chrétien, relativement à l’Angleterre, Accompagné d’un pareil Exposé de ceux qui ont déterminé le Roi notre Maître dans le parti qu’il a pris à l’égard de la même Puissance was published both in Paris and, with a slightly different title, in Madrid in 1779. Both were French translations of the Spanish Manifesto published in Madrid in 1779. A copy of the Exposé, as reprinted in Affaires de l’Angleterre et de l’Amérique (“Letters,” vol. 15, cahier 78, p. cxliii–ccx) is among JA’s books (Catalogue of JA’s Library description begins Catalogue of the John Adams Library in the Public Library of the City of Boston, Boston, 1917. description ends ). English translations of the component parts of the publication, entitled respectively the French and Spanish manifestos, were published in the Remembrancer and Annual Register for 1779 and also appeared in the London newspapers (for example, the London Chronicle for 22–24 July, 30 Sept. – 2 Oct., and 2–5 Oct.). The Spanish ultimatum, the terms of which are indicated in the Spanish (section 21) and French manifestos, provided that each belligerent would continue to hold the territory in its possession at the time that the truce was declared, a provision for uti possedetis that would have left large chunks of American territory in British hands. In fact, nothing that Spain proposed was in the American interest. The French manifesto appeared in the Pennsylvania Packet of 6 Nov. and Boston’s Independent Chronicle of 25 Nov. No American printing of the Spanish manifesto has been found.

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