Adams Papers

From John Adams to Francis Dana, 1 May 1783

To Francis Dana

Paris May 1. 17831


I have recd your Favour of the 16 of March,2 and in answer to it, I do assure you that I do not intend to decline taking a Seat in Congress, if any State in the Confederation shall think it worth while to offer me one. I am grown very ambitious of being a Limb of that Sovereign. I had rather be Master than Servant, upon the Same Principle that Men Swear at High Gate never to kiss the Maid, when they may kiss the Mistress.—3 I should be very happy to set along side of you upon one of those Seats, and rise up now and then and tell Stories of our Peregrinations, and of the Robbers We have met upon the high Way.— But you must not quit, till you have made your Treaty.

I beg you would consider what I write to you as hints, not as Advice,: the Reasons You give for not taking Some that I gave you are very conclusive and had not occured to me.— The first Vessells will I hope bring you Elucidations upon those Points.

My Son is arrived at the Hague, in good Health, but the Length of his Journey has given me much Uneasiness. Be so good as to let me know how much I am in your Debt on his Account. I am afraid he must have Spent a great deal of Money on the Road. He has not yet Sent me an Account.4

Mr Hartley is to finish with Us, and We are making Preparations but cannot Say how much Time will be necessary. They talk of a Congress and Mediation and Mr Markoff is coming, but there is no need of either on our Affairs, yet We may be invited to join it, and who would not be ambitious of setting in such a Council of the Cælestials? or rather who would not be curious to “know by what Sort of Men this World is governed.!”5

With great Esteem I have the Honour to be / &c

J. Adams

RC (MHi:Dana Family Papers); addressed: “A Monsieur / Monsr. Francis Dana / à / St. Petersbourg—”; internal address: “Mr Dana.”; endorsed: “Mr: Jno: Adams’s Letter / Dated May 1st. 1783. / recd: April 21st.— O.S. / Requestg: an Account of my advances / for his Son.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 108.

1Dana apparently received this letter on or about 1 June, for which see his letter of [1 June] (Adams Papers; filmed at 21 May). Evidently it is JA’s last extant letter to Dana before Dana sailed from Kronstadt on 8 Sept. (from Dana, 29 Sept., Adams Papers). This is curious in view of the content of Dana’s later letters, particularly those of [9], [12], and [15 May], all below, but may be explained by Dana’s injunction in his letter of [9 May] to “send no more Letters on to me here.”

2[27 March], above.

3For the origins of this oath taken in the public houses of Highgate, which means that one would not drink small beer when stronger was available, see Robert Bell, ed., Ancient Poems, Ballads and Songs of the Peasantry of England, London, 1857, p. 188–191.

4JQA wrote to JA on 6 May (AFC description begins Adams Family Correspondence, ed. L. H. Butterfield, Marc Friedlaender, Richard Alan Ryerson, Margaret A. Hogan, and others, Cambridge, 1963–. description ends , 5:150–151). There he indicated that he had obtained, at Stockholm and Hamburg, a total of approximately 2,050 guilders. JQA also indicated that he planned to write to Francis Dana, which he did on the 12th (MHi:Photostat Coll.). In that letter he informed Dana of the money obtained en route to The Hague and that upon his arrival Dumas had delivered Dana’s letter to him of [7 Feb.] (Adams Papers, filmed at 27 Jan.). He also indicated his disposition of the letters entrusted to him by Dana, two of which were letters to JA and Robert R. Livingston, for which see vol. 13:547–551. Finally, he enclosed a list of roads from St. Petersburg to Stockholm to assist Dana when he set out for his return to America.

5For Arkady Markov, see Dumas’ letter of 3 April, and note 4, above; for an invitation to join the mediation, see Lafayette’s 12 May letter to the American Peace Commissioners, below; and for JA’s previous use of the words in quotation marks ending the paragraph, see the final paragraph of his 2 July 1782 letter to Elbridge Gerry (vol. 13:147).

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