Adams Papers

From John Adams to Edmund Jenings, 28 January 1783

To Edmund Jenings

Paris Jany. 28th. 1783.


I am happy to find by your favor of the 23d. that You are safely arrived after a good Journey.

It is best I believe that nothing should be said between You two about the Affair in which both have been perfectly innocent. If You go I wish You a good Journey, but cannot warrant You against fresh troubles—for neither the Innocence nor Virtue of Angels would be a Security against them in a World, which abounds with so many mischievous Spirits.

Your own Sentiments are so just & so well reasoned upon public Affairs, that You can go no where without doing good, & it would be ridiculous in me to advise You.

The whole System of my Politicks is summarily comprehended in your own Precept vizt. “Make & keep Independence independent”— Every Step to that End is a wise one, & every Appearance to the contrary is Mischief—

I can answer for myself, & I believe for many others— For myself, I have hitherto lived an independant Man, and it is my intention to die so.—

The Paper You ask for, if it is in being, is many hundreds of Miles from me, & cannot be come at but by myself—

I congratulate You upon the Signature of the Preliminaries and the Armistice on the 20th. You may insert these three Commissions in the English Papers or Remembrancer as soon as You please—1 Dr. Franklin has written a fresh Resignation to Congress, as his Son tells me.2

With great Esteem & Affection, I have the honor &c

LbC in John Thaxter’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mr. Jenings.” APM Reel 108.

1The commissions sent to Jenings almost certainly included that of 29 Sept. 1779 authorizing JA to negotiate an Anglo-American commercial treaty, since revoked on 12 July 1781. The commission and the resolution revoking it appeared in the Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser of 11 March and later in part 1 of John Almon’s Remembrancer for 1783, p. 315. See also Jenings’ letter of 14 March and Henry Laurens’ of 26 March, both below. The other two commissions cannot be identified precisely but were probably JA’s original commission of 29 Sept. 1779 to negotiate an Anglo-American peace treaty and that of [29 Dec. 1780] to negotiate a Dutch-American commercial treaty (vol. 8:185, cal.; 10:449). It almost certainly did not include the 15 June 1781 joint commission to negotiate an Anglo-American peace treaty (vol. 11:371–374), which the commissioners had exchanged with their British counterparts and which in company with Richard Oswald’s commission appeared in various London newspapers, including the London Chronicle of 25–27 February.

2Presumably JA means Franklin’s grandson William Temple Franklin. No January letter from Franklin to Congress renewing his request to resign has been found, but see the last paragraph of that to Robert R. Livingston that was begun on 5 Dec. 1782 and finished on the 14th (Franklin, Papers description begins The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, ed. Leonard W. Labaree, William B. Willcox, Claude A. Lopez, Barbara B. Oberg, Ellen R. Cohn, and others, New Haven, 1959–. description ends , 38:410–417).

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