Adams Papers

From John Adams to Benjamin Franklin, 8 December 1779

To Benjamin Franklin

Ferrol Decr. 8. 1779


I have the Honour to inform your Excellency, that Congress having judged it proper to appoint me to a new Mission in Europe I embarked on the thirteenth of November,1 at the Instance of The Chevalier de La Luzerne and Mr. Gerard, on Board the same Frigate that carried me to America. Soon after We got to sea a formidable Leake in the ship discovered itself so as to oblige Us to keep two Pumps, constantly going by Night and Day, which induced the Captain [to] think it necessary to put into this Place, where We have just now cast Anchor.

Whether I shall go to Paris by Land or wait for the Frigate is uncertain; I believe the former, as the latter might detain me, four or five

Weeks. I have dispatches for your Excellency from Congress, which I shall carry with me, and News papers. These latter contain little remarkable save the Evacuation of Rhode Island by the Enemy, and the Compte D’Estaings Progress in Georgia, in Cooperation with General Lincoln, which was in a fair Course of success.2

I hope the Confederacy, which sailed from Philadelphia, three or four Weeks before Us, with Mr. Gerard and Mr. Jay, who is appointed Minister plenipotentiary for Spain, has happily arrived,3 and made it unnecessary for me to enlarge upon the general state of Affairs in America, which were upon the whole in a favourable Train. I hope to have the Honour of saluting you at Passy in a few Weeks, and am with4 sir, your most obedient servt

John Adams

RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers.); addressed: “A Son Excellence Monsieur Monsieur Franklin Ministre Plenipotentiaire des Etats Unis de L’Amerique, a Passy pres Paris”; docketed: “J. Adams Decr. 10. 79.” LbC in John Thaxter’s hand (Adams Papers).

1The date on which JA boarded La Sensible; the vessel left Boston Harbor on 15 Nov. His voyage is recounted in JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 2:402–404 (entry for 24 Nov. and following), 4:191–194 (entry for 5 Nov. and following); JQA, Diary description begins Diary of John Quincy Adams, ed. David Grayson Allen, Robert J. Taylor, and others, Cambridge, 1981– description ends , 1:3–10 (entry for 15 Nov. and following); and Adams Family Correspondence description begins Adams Family Correspondence, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1963– description ends , 3:235–239 (JA to AA, 15 and 20 Nov.; JQA to AA, 20 Nov.).

2On 28 Oct. the Independent Chronicle reported that the British evacuation of Newport had been completed on the 25th. The Boston Gazette on 1 Nov. listed Estaing’s alleged victories in Georgia.

3John Jay sailed on 20 Oct. 1779 in the Continental frigate Confederacy, but storm damage forced the vessel into St. Pierre, Martinique, in mid-December. There Jay transferred to the French frigate Aurora, which arrived at Cadiz on 22 Jan., making a total voyage of 95 days (Morris, Peacemakers description begins Richard B. Morris, The Peacemakers: The Great Powers and American Independence, New York, 1965. description ends , p. 1–7). This was in sharp contrast to JA’s 24-day passage.

4A blank space appears here; the Letterbook copy has “great Respect.”

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