Adams Papers

From John Adams to Francis Dana, 24 March 1783

To Francis Dana

Paris. 24th. March. 1783

Dear sir,

I have received your favor of 14th. February1—and am not without hopes of receiving from Congress, in a few days, directions for advancing the money to you: But five thousand Pounds sterling is an enormous sum, and, in the opinion of some, more than the Treaty, in the present Circumstances will be worth. Dr: Franklin started to me a doubt, whether you had not been imposed upon, and told of a Custom, which never existed.— I have no doubt you have informed yourself exactly on this, as on all other occasions; but I should advise you to procure a Certificate, from the French & Dutch Ambassadors, that it is an usage, and indispensable to pay such a sum of money— If you draw on Messrs: Wilhem & Jan Willinks, Nicholas & Jacob Van Staphorsts, and de la Lande & Fynje, I will advise them to pay it, & have no doubt they will do it—2

Nothing, my dear friend, surprizes me. I have seen so extensive & long continued a system of Imposture practised upon Congress and their Ministers, and have So long smarted under the torment of it, that no fresh instance can surprise me. I suspect that the design is now to defeat you by forming a Congress here, in order to have all your business done by the “Pacificateur de l’Europe.”3 I hope you will no longer wait a single moment, but communicate your mission to the Minister of every neutral Court, or at least of every Court within your Commission, let the advice given you be what it will. For my own part I have resigned all,4 & shall go home; and have some hopes of opening the eyes of our Countrymen in some particulars: But, to stay in Europe with my veins tingling with contempt & detestation of the odious impositions practised upon us, is impossible— I had rather drive a Trucks in the Town of Boston.—

I have a letter from John, at Hamburgh the 14th. of this month, in good health. He will be at the Hague in a few days. I had a letter from him at Gothenbourg, and another at Copehagen—5

I have particular reasons, my friend, to beg of you, in Confidence, the Character of a Mr: Tyler, who once studied with you.6 What is his moral Character, as well as his literary abilities? Will he ever make anything at the Bar? Don’t spare him in the least.—

With great affection & esteem, I am, dear Sir, / Your humle: servt:

J. Adams.7

RC in Charles Storer’s hand (MHi:Dana Family Papers); addressed: “A Monsieur / Monsr. Francis Dana / à / St. Petersbourg.”; internal address: “Mr: Dana”; endorsed: “Mr: Jerh: Allen’s Letter / Dated Riga” and “Mr: Jno: Adams’s Letter / Dated March 24th. 1783. / recd: May 21st.—O.S. / Bankers.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 108.

1[25 Feb.], above.

2In a letter written on [1 June] (Adams Papers, filmed at 21 May), Dana indicated that when a treaty was concluded, four signers were generally appointed and each was paid 6,000 rubles. The fee was “so settled a Custom,” according to Dana, that each of the nations acceding to the Armed Neutrality had paid it. It was not until 13 May (LbC, APM Reel 108) that JA formally requested that the consortium provide Dana with the credit, for which see the consortium’s reply of 22 May, below.

3Vergennes; see JA’s reference to him in that sense in his 21 March letter to James Warren, above.

4In the Letterbook JA wrote then canceled “my little occupations” at this point.

5For JQA’s letters from Hamburg of 12 March, Göteborg of 1 Feb., and Copenhagen of 20 Feb, see 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, 97–98, 104–105.

6Royall Tyler began boarding at the Braintree home of Richard and Mary Cranch in April 1782 and embarked on an ill-fated courtship of AA2 during the summer. Dana responded to JA’s request for information on [3 June] 1783: “I can conjecture, I think, the particular reasons which induce you so earnestly to enquire into the moral Character, and literary abilities of a certain young Gentleman— You have a Daughter, Sir, Am I right?” Dana reported that Tyler studied in his law office for two or three months and that while he was said to have literary abilities he was lax in his studies. “Dissipation seemed to be his capital foible. He is, I think, good tempered; of a frank, and open disposition: and one of those Characters of whom tis commonly said. They are their own greatest Enemies, but the Enemies of no one else” (Adams Papers; filmed at 23 May). See also AFC description begins Adams Family Correspondence, ed. L. H. Butterfield, Marc Friedlaender, Richard Alan Ryerson, Margaret A. Hogan, and others, Cambridge, 1963–. description ends , 4:335–337, 5:54–59.

7Signature in JA’s hand.

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