Adams Papers

To John Adams from Francis Dana, 31 October – 1 November 1782

From Francis Dana

St: Petersbourg,
Octr: 20th. 1782. O.S. [31 October N.S.]

My dear Sir

I wrote you yesterday by a different course: You will receive that letter a few days after this comes to your hands.1 You will be pleased to see that immediate attention is paid to a particular part of it, as requested.2 I then advised you that your Son wou’d set off the same day (which he did about noon) for Stockholm, where he proposed to remain 8. or 10. days, and then to pursue his journey by the way of Copenhagen, Lubec, and Hambourg. and that you might expect him in all December.3 I charged him to write you from Stockholm, and also to write me from several intermediate stations in Finland. We must allow 20 Days for Stockholm at this season, when the roads are in their worst state; and when they will not pass the Sinus Bothnicum4 unless the winds are fair, as the days are short, and the Boatmen will not remain out in the night. He travels from hence in a Post-Chaise with a Gentleman who will hold his course as far as Hambourg.5 From thence he will take a place in a Stage if convenient. He has letters for Stockholm from the Spanish Minister here, the Marquis de la Torre, and from the Swedish Chargé d’Affairs,6 as well as others, and indeed from others for all the principal places thro’ which he will pass. He will have an opportunity in this route to see Countries which perhaps he might otherwise not have seen. There is a Swedish Gentleman of Stockholm in company with them, with whom we are well acquainted. He will pay a particular attention to him at Stockholm, and if possible procure him a fellow Traveller on to Holland. I have charged him to consult this Gentleman & to follow his advice about the residue of his journey—7 I have waited upon the Dutch Ambassador about the Generals picture.8 He tells me he has not received it, or heard any thing about it and desires me to enquire of you by whom you sent it, and in what manner; whether it was addressed to him, or verbal directions only given to deliver it to him for me—whether it was closed up or sent open by itself, or put into a packet for him. When he shall know the proper facts, he was pleased to say he wou’d enquire after it. He desired his compliments to you— If you sent it by the person who brought you the Court Almanacks last Summer,9 as he has not yet arrived, having stopt among his friends in Germany, there is no doubt but he will deliver it in time— I have received the copy of your Treaty, & of the Resolutions of Congress respecting Captures, & Felonies committed on the High-Seas, but no letters or other papers accompanying them. I most cordially thank you and Mr: Thaxter for these— Have you received any intelligence of the issue of Genl: Clarke’s expedition against the important Fortress of Detroit.10 It seems he has had two detachments already surprised & cut off. I fear these checks may render the expedition abortive. It is of much consequence to us to break up, & gain possession of that chain of British Posts, along our Frontiers. Have you any particular intelligence in what part of the United States Mr. Vadreuille has arrived with his Fleet.11 If he does not proceed for New-York without loss of time, I think nothing may be expected from him this campaign, as every thing depends upon his fleet arriving there before the British. Adieu, my dear Sir, I am with the greatest respect / Yours &c


Octr: 21st: 1782. [O.S., 1 November N.S.]

Dear Sir

I have kept this letter open till the arrival of the Post, which this day brings me your letter of the 10th. of Octr: which acknowledges the receipt of mine of the 5/16 of Septr:.12 I thank you for the important intelligence you communicate to me. I am glad to hear {John Adams}13 intends to change his quarters for sometime. Tho’ your letter to me had not been opened at the Office here. yet Mr: Thaxter’s enclosing two, upon one sheet, from Mr: Morris had, & was sent to me in that State.14 They are of no consequence however, and their curiosity will meet with no great gratification in this instance. Mr: T. shou’d not have sent his on in that course. All my letters in future must go thro’ the particular channel I have marked out, otherwise they will fall into the hands of the Ministry. Pray give this direction to Mr: S. if you leave him at a certain station,15 & request him to give it to Messrs: De Neufville & Ingraham & Bromfield immediately. I will write your Son this day—I heard from him yesterday on his route, all well.16

Your’s &c

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency J. Adams / Minister Plenipotentiary &c”; endorsed: “Mr Dana 20 Oct. / 1782.” In his letterbook, at the bottom of the letter dated 21 Oct. [O.S., 1 Nov. N.S.], Dana wrote “Written on the same sheet with the letter of the 20th. [O.S., 31 Oct. N.S.]” (MHi:Francis Dana Letterbooks, Private, 1782–1784). At some point the dated portions of the letter became separated and were filmed at their old style dates.

1The earlier letter of 30 Oct. (Adams Papers) was considerably shorter but contained essentially the same information as this letter of 31 October.

2Presumably, Dana is referring to instructions in his letter of [30 Oct.] regarding the means by which letters should be sent to him to avoid their being opened by Russian postal authorities. These instructions are also included in this letter, although in less detail.

3JQA’s diary entry for 30 Oct. confirms that he left Dana at about noon. Dana, however, was overly optimistic about the speed with which JQA would accomplish his journey. JQA reached Stockholm on 22 Nov., remained there until 31 Dec., and finally arrived at The Hague on 21 April 1783. See JQA, Diary description begins Diary of John Quincy Adams, ed. David Grayson Allen, Robert J. Taylor, and others, Cambridge, 1981–. description ends , 1:153–174, for an account of his trek across northern Europe, which included stops at Copenhagen and Hamburg, but not Lübeck. For his arrival at The Hague, see C. W. F. Dumas’ letter of 22 April 1783, below. JQA’s first extant letter to his father, written in the course of the journey, was dated 1 Feb. at Göteborg, Sweden (AFC description begins Adams Family Correspondence, ed. L. H. Butterfield, Marc Friedlaender, Richard Alan Ryerson, Margaret A. Hogan, and others, Cambridge, 1963–. description ends , 5:86–87).

4The Gulf of Bothnia, between Finland and Sweden.

5Probably a Count Greco. Dana was warned about Greco’s reputation and cautioned JQA against him in a letter of 21 Nov. 1782 (Adams Papers). Greco accompanied JQA to Stockholm and was last encountered at Copenhagen in mid-February (JQA, Diary description begins Diary of John Quincy Adams, ed. David Grayson Allen, Robert J. Taylor, and others, Cambridge, 1981–. description ends , 1:151, 154, 162, 165, 166, 171, 172).

6Dana’s reference to the “Spanish Minister” is to Pedro Normande, the chargé d’affaires, since Spain had no minister at St. Petersburg. The Marqués de la Torre was also at the Spanish legation. JQA indicates in his diary that he received letters from Baron Gustav von Albedyhll, the Swedish chargé, on the morning of the 30th, but does not mention when he received those from the Spanish diplomats (Repertorium description begins Ludwig Bittner and others, eds., Repertorium der diplomatischen Vertreter aller Länder seit dem Westfälischen Frieden (1648), Oldenburg, 1936–1965; 3 vols. description ends , 3:414, 440; JQA, Diary description begins Diary of John Quincy Adams, ed. David Grayson Allen, Robert J. Taylor, and others, Cambridge, 1981–. description ends , 1:153).

7Probably a Mr. Gummer, who traveled with the party but in a separate coach. He accompanied JQA only as far as Åbo, Finland (JQA, Diary description begins Diary of John Quincy Adams, ed. David Grayson Allen, Robert J. Taylor, and others, Cambridge, 1981–. description ends , 1:150, 152, 153, 154, 156, 158).

8This is an unidentified miniature of George Washington that JA had sent to Dana to be forwarded by the Dutch ambassador to Russia, Baron Willem Lodewijk van Wassenaer-Starrenburg (Repertorium description begins Ludwig Bittner and others, eds., Repertorium der diplomatischen Vertreter aller Länder seit dem Westfälischen Frieden (1648), Oldenburg, 1936–1965; 3 vols. description ends , 3:268). For its initial dispatch and the later efforts to locate it, see the indexes to vols. 12 and 13.

9For the dispatch of the court almanacs, see vol. 13:74.

10An expedition against Detroit led by George Rogers Clark had been planned for 1781 but the undertaking was delayed repeatedly because of difficulties in finance, supply, and recruitment, as well as Native-American resistance. By the date of this letter, and in the wake of Yorktown, Clark’s expedition had been abandoned and Detroit’s ultimate disposition left to the peace negotiators (James Alton James, Life of George Rogers Clark, Chicago, 1928, p. 229–253).

11The French squadron under Louis Philippe de Rigaud, Marquis de Vaudreuil, was refitting at Boston. On 24 Dec., with Rochambeau’s army embarked, it departed for the West Indies. While in American waters the squadron did not undertake operations against the British (Dull, French Navy and Amer. Independence description begins Jonathan R. Dull, The French Navy and American Independence: A Study of Arms and Diplomacy, 1774–1787, Princeton, 1975. description ends , p. 333).

12Vol. 13:469–471, 522–523.

13In the letter Dana wrote “18.” For the code, see vol. 11:480–482.

14These letters were from Lewis R. Morris concerning the quarterly payment of Dana’s salary from 1 Jan. to 1 April and from 1 April to 1 July (MHi:Dana Family Papers). For similar letters to JA, see vol. 13:165–166. Dana, however, assumed that the letters were from Robert Morris and wrote to him on [1 Nov.] (MHi:Francis Dana Letterbooks, Official, 1781–1782).

15That is, if Charles Storer remained at The Hague while JA and John Thaxter went to Paris.

16JQA’s letter to Dana has not been found, but Dana’s letter of [1 Nov.] is in the Adams Papers and was filmed at 21 October.

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