Adams Papers

To John Adams from Edmund Jenings, 23 January 1783

From Edmund Jenings

Brussels Janry 23d 1783


I take the Liberty to inform your Excellency that I arrivd here Safe last Friday after having had a tolerable good Journey.

I have seen a Gentleman in this Town twice since my Arrival— He has said nothing in particular to me, but his Reception has been somewhat Cool.—1 if He Continues his Silence, I propose to go, where your Excellency recommended to me.2 but I do it with some Anxiety, being fearful, after what has happened, to bring on myself fresh troubles if you Excellency has therefore any Commands to give me, I beg to have them as soon as possible

Permit me to intreat your Excellency to let me have the Original Letter, which has done so much Mischief— I have examind some that I have by me, and I think I have thereby a clue to discover the Author. if I am right in my present Idea, of Him, Your Excellency has not been mistaken.3

I am with the greatest Respect / Sir / Your Excellencys / Most Obedient / Humble Servt.

Edm: Jenings

RC (Adams Papers).

1Jenings had returned from Paris where he had been since early Dec. 1782 (JA, D&A description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 3:91). His likely purpose for going, at least in part, was to make an effort to resolve his conflict with Henry Laurens. Laurens believed Jenings to be the author of a series of anonymous letters that were intended to divide American diplomats in Europe (vol. 13:63–65). For Jenings’ correspondence and meetings with Laurens while at Paris, see Laurens, Papers description begins The Papers of Henry Laurens, ed. Philip M. Hamer, George C. Rogers Jr., David R. Chesnutt, C. James Taylor, and others, Columbia, S.C., 1968–2003; 16 vols. description ends , 16:294–295, 303–324. The “Gentleman” whom Jenings had seen since his return to Brussels was almost certainly William Lee, whom, according to Edward Bridgen, Jenings had accused of being the author. Laurens wrote to Lee on 21 Dec. 1782 to inform him of the accusation, but he did not name Jenings as the source. In his replies of 24 and 25 Dec., Lee emphatically denied authorship and demanded the name of his accuser. Laurens did not comply with Lee’s request in his reply of 8 Jan. 1783, but Lee likely deduced from Laurens’ letters that it was Jenings (same, p. 92–93, 125–126, 299).

2Presumably to London, where Jenings arrived toward the end of February (from Jenings, 14 March, below).

3That is, the anonymous letter of 3 May 1782, which Jenings had enclosed with his of 6 June 1782. JA believed it to be the work of someone associated with an Amsterdam banking house disappointed at being denied participation in JA’s 1782 Dutch loan (vol. 13:98–101).

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