Adams Papers

From John Adams to Benjamin Franklin, 5 December 1783

To Benjamin Franklin

London Dec. 5. 1783.


Commodore Jones is just arrived from Philadelphia with Dispatches.1 Those directed to the Ministers I opened. one contained nothing but Newspapers and Proclamations. The other contained a Letter to “the Commissioners” and a Sett of Instructions. The Letter bears Date the 1. of November the Instructions the 29 of Octr.— a remaining Packet is directed to you alone, but probably contains a Commission to Us all to treat of Commerce with Great Britain.2

Mr Jay and Mr Laurens are at Bath and the bearer is inclined to go on to Paris. I shall Send on the Dispatches and depend upon your Sending Us, the earliest Intelligence, if you find a Commission (in the Packet to you,) in Pursuance of the Resolution of the first of May last, because that Parliament must do Something before they rise respecting the Trade, and their Proceedings may probably be Somewhat the less evil, for knowing beforehand that there is in Europe a Power to treat.

I Shall wait with Some Impatience to hear from you because, if there is no Commission under Cover to you, in which I am named, I Shall go to the Hague, and there take up my abode for sometime. I have just recd a Letter from Willink &Co which Shews that Money is exhausted & Credit too. He incloses me his Letter to you, but I fear you will not be able to assist him.3 With great respect &c

LbC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Dr Franklin”; APM Reel 107.

1John Paul Jones had sailed from Philadelphia on 10 Nov. on the packet General Washington, Capt. Joshua Barney, which was bound for Hâvre de Grace, France. On 1 Dec., against Barney’s protests that the British might imprison him, Jones was put ashore near Plymouth, England, and proceeded to London (Morison, John Paul Jones description begins Samuel Eliot Morison, John Paul Jones: A Sailor’s Biography, Boston, 1959. description ends , p. 337–338). In a somewhat garbled report, the London Chronicle of 6–9 Dec. noted that “on Friday Evening [5 Dec.], about nine o’clock, the celebrated Paul Jones arrived in town from Paris, with dispatches from the American Congress for his Excellency John Adams, Esq; Mr. Jones was only twenty-two days on his passage from Philadelphia to France; and after delivering his dispatches on Friday evening, he set out the next morning at three o’clock for Paris, to proceed from thence to America.” For Jones’ mission to Europe, see the instructions to the commissioners of 29 Oct., above.

2The president of Congress’ letters to JA and the commissioners are both at 1 Nov., above. But see also his letters of that date to Francis Dana, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and Henry Laurens in Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789, ed. Paul H. Smith and others, Washington, 1976–2000; 26 vols. description ends , 21:130–132, 134–135. For the content of the packet sent on to Franklin, see Franklin’s reply of 10 Dec., below. JA forwarded the letters to Jay and Laurens, then at Bath, with his letter to Jay of 7 Dec., below.

3The consortium’s letter of 2 Dec., above.

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