Adams Papers

John Adams to George Clinton, 1 February 1784

To George Clinton

The Hague February 2. 1784.


Mr C. W. Schubert, de Rawitz, in Poland, proposes to embark in march for New York, and there to establish himself, in Trade, chiefly in German Linnens He proposes to remove with him his Wife & Child. I have been desired to give him a Letter of Introduction, a favour which is very often asked and I dont know how to refuse.1 Upon these occasions however I only mean to request ordinary Civilities to Strangers, Advice upon Occasion and the Protection of the Laws.

I beg Leave, now I am writing, to mention to your Excellency a Report, which has given me some Concern vizt that Sir James Jay was So much Suspected in the State of New York as to have Occasioned the Confiscation of his Land there.— I Sincerely hope the Report is not true, and I interest myself in it, the more because I am under a Personal Obligation to him for his masterly skill and faithful Attendence, as a Physician, in a dangerous Sickness I had last Fall at Paris and Auteuil. No Feelings of my own, however, of Personal Gratitude, ought to influence me to write a Word in his favour, if I thought him, unfaithfull to the Publick, but from all the Knowledge I have had of him, and from all his Conversation with the People in France and in Holland, he has invariably maintained the Character of a zealous American. It is true, there is not a perfect Understanding between him and his Brother, who is one of the best of Men as well as one of the best Americans. The Grounds of this Coolness, I never understood from either Side but I am perswaded, nevertheless that his Brother thinks him an honest American.2 You will pardon the Liberty I take, sir / and believe me to be with great Respect & Esteem, your / Excellencies most obedient sert

LbC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency George Clinton Esq / Governor of New York.”; APM Reel 107.

1Nothing further is known of C. W. Schubert, and no other letters of introduction for him, other than this letter to Clinton, have been found.

2Sir James Jay had been knighted for his efforts to raise money in England for King’s College, later Columbia College. As an ardent New York patriot he supported harsh measures against the loyalists in the state’s senate, but by 1782 his thoughts had turned to Anglo-American reconciliation. Then, by prearrangement, he was captured by the British and, to advance his plan, sailed for England. His undertaking came to nothing, and in July 1782 he wrote to JA from London to explain his situation and deflect criticism stemming from London newspaper reports that he had “arrived express from Congress with proposals of preliminaries for an accommodation.” It was largely Sir James’ oscillation between political extremes that alienated him from his brother John. In a letter dated April 1785, Clinton, governor of New York, replied that “I am happy to have it in my Power to refute the unfavourable accounts you had received respecting Sir James Jay. It is true there were some unlucky Circumstances attending his Capture which were so represented as to have excited Jealousies and Suspicions in the minds of some rather Injurious to him; but they never made such Impression as to become matter of Public discus̃ion” (Adams Papers; vol. 13:187–188; DAB description begins Allen Johnson, Dumas Malone, and others, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936; repr. New York, 1955–1980; 10 vols. plus index and supplements. description ends ; Morris, Peacemakers, description begins Richard B. Morris, The Peacemakers: The Great Powers and American Independence, New York, 1965. description ends p. 298–299).

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