Adams Papers

From John Adams to Jean Luzac, 22 August 1780

To Jean Luzac

Amsterdam August 22. 17801


At a Time, when the English Emmissaries are filling all Europe with their confidant Assertions, of the Distress of the Americans, the enclosed Papers shew that both at Philadelphia and at Boston, the People are so much at their Ease, As to be busily employed, in the Pursuits of the Arts of Peace, and in laying Foundations for future Improvements in Science and Literature. It is perhaps the first Instance, of Such Tranquility of Mind in the midst of a civil War.

If you think, it worth while to publish these Proceedings they are at your Service.2 I have received also the new Constitution of the Massachusetts Bay. If you think it of any Use to translate it, and publish it it is at your Service.3

If you dont think proper to publish the Proceedings of the Mass. in establishing an Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Philosophical Society at Philadelphia, in electing a number of new members, I should be obliged to you, for the Return of these Papers to me, because I have no other. Please to direct to me, at Mr. Henry Schorns in Amsterdam. I am with great Respect, your humble servant

John Adams

RC (NjMoHP).

1This is JA’s first letter to Jean Luzac, publisher of the Gazette de Leyde, and sympathetic friend to the American cause. The Adams Papers Editorial Files contain thirty-six letters exchanged by the two men from this date through 24 May 1805. Particularly during the first months of JA’s residence in the Netherlands, he used Luzac to convince Europeans that the United States was determined to achieve independence and to explain the operation of its economic and political systems (Schulte Nordholt, Dutch Republic and Amer. Independence description begins Jan Willem Schulte Nordholt, The Dutch Republic and American Independence, transl. by Herbert H. Rowen, Chapel Hill, 1982. description ends , p. 121–124). In addition to printing the items offered by JA in this letter (see note 2), Luzac proved particularly valuable to JA as the publisher of the French translation of JA’s reworking of Pownall’s Memorial: Pensées sur la révolution de l’Amérique-Unie, Amsterdam, 1780 (Translation of Thomas Pownall’s Memorial, 19 April – [ca. 14 July], Editorial Note, above).

2In the Gazette de Leyde of 29 Aug., Luzac, using the text of JA’s letter as the basis for his introductory comments, printed the act establishing the American Academy of Arts and Sciences that had been adopted by the General Court on 4 May 1780 (Mass., Province Laws description begins The Acts and Resolves, Public and Private, of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, Boston, 1869–1922; 21 vols. description ends , 5:1194–1196), and the text of a report of the meeting of the American Philosophical Society on 21 Jan. at which George Washington, JA, and numerous others were elected to membership. The newspaper account indicated that the material was taken from a letter dated 15 June at Philadelphia, but no such letter has been found in the Adams Papers, despite Luzac’s return of this letter’s enclosures with his letter of 31 Aug. (below). A printed copy of the act establishing the American Academy (Evans description begins Charles Evans and others, comps., American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of All Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America 1639–1800, Chicago and Worcester, 1903–1959; 14 vols. description ends , No. 16841) is in the Adams Papers. JA copied a small portion of the text from the Gazette into Lb/JA/14 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 102). It appears immediately after his letter of 28 Aug. to Joseph Gridley (not printed, but see Gridley’s letter of [post 28 Aug.], below) and is followed by eleven blank pages, indicating that JA probably intended to copy the entire article. For JA’s role in the establishment of the American Academy, see vol. 8:233, 260, 270–271; Adams Family Correspondence description begins Adams Family Correspondence, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1963–. description ends , 3:225–226. For JA’s election to the American Philosophical Society in 1780 and then again in 1793, see Adams Family Correspondence description begins Adams Family Correspondence, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1963–. description ends , 3:299–300.

3For Luzac’s publication of the Massachusetts Constitution, see his letter of 14 Sept., and note 3 (below).

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