Adams Papers

From John Adams to Jeremiah Allen, 25 February 1783

To Jeremiah Allen

Paris Feb. 25. 1783.


I thank you for your Care of my Letters mentioned in yours of the 19th.1 which I beg you to Send by the first Vessell. Dr Franklin has Sent Passports to Nantes to the Care of Mr Williams, for all the American Vessells.

I am very much obliged to you, for your Politeness in Sending me, the Salt Fish, but if they are not already on their Way, I beg you to keep them, for the Use of your other Friends, because my Traiteur knows not how to cook them and if he did, a genuine Fish Dinner would not relish any where but in Boston or its Neighbourhood, at least without a Company of genuine Amateurs,2 which I could not find here.— I have Such an Appetite for a Boston Fish Dinner, Since the Peace, that I hope to enjoy one, before August.

I have not any Information of Portugals Acknowledgment of our Independence,3 and I join with you in wishing our Friend Success at Petersbourg.

The Debates in Parliament upon the Peace on the 17 were very warm and the Decisions not So politick, as We could wish. both Houses, however declare the Articles binding, the Lords approve them, and the King in his Answer to the Lords Address, declares his opinion in favour of them, and his Determination to execute them with Honour and good faith.4

Will you be So good as to give me Notice of the first Arrivals from Boston or Philadelphia and the News they bring and the Passengers who come.

I am &c

LbC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mr Jeremiah Allen at / Nantes.”; APM Reel 108.

1Not found. Notations in JA’s Letterbook indicate that he sent Allen two letters to be forwarded, those to the president of Congress and Thomas McKean of 5 and 6 Feb., respectively, both above.

2That is, with a company of genuine connoisseurs.

3For Portugal’s action regarding the United States, see Arnold Henri Dohrman’s letter of 19 Feb., and note 3, above.

4As JA indicates, George III assured the House of Lords that “it is my firm purpose to execute every Article of the Treaties on my part, with that good faith which has ever distinguished the conduct of this nation.” While the 17 Feb. parliamentary debates over the preliminary treaty gave evidence of sharp conflict between various individuals and parties over the wisdom of the concessions made to the United States regarding territory and fishing rights and the failure to obtain compensation for the loyalists, there was never any possibility that the treaty would be rejected. Even Frederick Howard, 5th Earl of Carlisle, and Lord John Cavendish, principal critics of the treaty in the Lords and Commons, respectively, opposed renouncing the treaty and thereby violating “the national faith.”

Instead, the debates were really over the Earl of Shelburne’s continuance in office. Although JA did not know it, Shelburne had resigned the previous day. His departure was owing to two defeats in the House of Commons, both the work of Lord John Cavendish. On 17 Feb. he offered an amendment to the Commons’ address to George III that substantially weakened the House’s expressed approbation for the king’s successful negotiation of a peace, which passed by sixteen votes. On the 21st, Cavendish undertook to censure the ministry and in pursuit of that objective proposed five resolutions, all of them adopted. The first three and the fifth were relatively innocuous, declaring Commons’ support for George III’s efforts to render the preliminary treaties effective, its intention “to improve the blessings of peace, to the advantage of his crown and subjects,” its approval of granting independence to America under the existing circumstances, and its determination to obtain relief for the loyalists. But the fourth resolution spawned the most divisive debate. Declaring that “the concessions made to the adversaries of Great Britain, by the said Provisional Treaty and Preliminary Articles, are greater than they were entitled to, either from the actual situation of their respective possessions, or from their comparative strength,” it closely resembled the language of an amendment offered on 17 Feb. by the Earl of Carlisle to the Lords’ address to the king. Its passage by seventeen votes sealed Shelburne’s fate and made his the only eighteenth-century British government to suffer a parliamentary defeat over a peace settlement (Parliamentary Hist. description begins The Parliamentary History of England, from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803, London, 1806–1820; 36 vols. description ends , 23:374–493, 498–571; Scott, British Foreign Policy description begins H. M. Scott, British Foreign Policy in the Age of the American Revolution, Oxford, 1990. description ends , p. 334–335; to Benjamin Vaughan, 12 March, note 2, below).

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