Adams Papers

The Comte de Vergennes to John Adams: A Translation, 30 March 1780

The Comte de Vergennes to John Adams: A Translation

Versailles, 30 March 1780

I have received, sir, the letter that you did me the honor to write on the 21st of this month. I recall very well having told you that your presentation would be inserted in the Gazette de France. But further investigation has convinced me that never have the presentations of either ambassadors or ministers plenipotentiary been announced in our Gazette, so that to do so in your case would indicate an unwarranted partiality.1 As an alternative, if you wish, I will have it mentioned in the Mercure de France, and you can, without any inconvenience, undertake to have it repeated in the foreign gazettes.

I have the honor to be very sincerely, sir, your very humble and very obedient servant.

De Vergennes

P.S. I enclose a draft of the article that I propose to insert in the Mercure. I will not send it until you have given me your opinion.

RC and enclosure (Adams Papers.)

1The Gazette de France was the official journal of the French government. An announcement in the Gazette of JA’s mission and his presentation to the King, especially if such represented a sharp departure from past practice, would have carried the implication that France, as well as the United States, was eager to initiate peace negotiations. In early 1780 such an inference would have been wrong, particularly in view of France’s obligations to Spain. No such implication would be attached to such a notice in the Mercure de France. That publication, ostensibly a literary journal, had a section paginated separately from the rest of the issue and entitled “Journal Politique de Bruxelles.” This section, although controlled by the French foreign ministry and edited by Edmé Jacques Genet as the successor to his Affaires de l’Angleterre et de l’Amerique, had no overt connection with the French government and thus no status as an official purveyor of French policy.

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