Adams Papers

From John Adams to the Comte de Vergennes, 20 June 1780

To the Comte de Vergennes

Paris June 20th. 1780


I have just now received Some Newspapers and Journals,1 which I think it my Duty to inclose without Loss of Time to your Excellency.

The Account from Charlestown in the Newspapers does not favour the Report of Clinton’s Defeat.2 The Journals of the ninth and twenty fifth of February, show what measures Congress have taken for raising and subsisting an Army of thirty five thousand Men. Your Excellency will See, that they are obliged to do it without Money.3

I have the Honor to be, with great Respect, Sir, your Excellency’s most obedient Servant.

John Adams

RC in John Thaxter’s hand (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 12); endorsed: “M. Adams envoye le Journal du Congrès et une gazette de Pensilvanie qui contient l’extrait d’une lettre de Charlestown. au 1er. fevrier au 27. avril.” The marks appearing before the dates were inserted above “Journal” and “Gazette” respectively, for which see notes 3 and 2.

1These were probably enclosed with James Lovell’s letter of 4 May, which likely arrived with Elbridge Gerry’s letter of 5 May, an extract of which JA enclosed with his first letter of 20 June to Vergennes (all above). Gerry indicated that Lovell was sending newspapers and journals and JA mentioned them in his reply to Lovell of 24 June (below).

2The newspaper referred to in the endorsement, and which accompanies this letter in the French Archives, is the Pennsylvania Gazette of 27 April. It contains a letter from Charleston that chronicles the slow, steady progress of Clinton’s forces as they prepared to lay siege to the city, but says nothing of any decisive measures by the defenders to repel the invaders.

3The printed Journal (not found), mentioned here and in the endorsement, probably covered the period from 1 through 29 February. On 9 and 25 Feb., Congress considered the means by which it could obtain the men and supplies necessary to maintain an army in the field. As JA notes, Congress was “obliged to do it without money,” crediting each state’s contribution to the taxes it owed or standing requisitions for supplies. Any balancing of accounts requiring the payment of specie would take place at some later, unspecified date (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 16:143–151, 196–201).

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