Adams Papers
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To John Adams from Arthur Lee, 29 March 1779

From Arthur Lee

March 29th. 1779

Dear Sir

I receivd your favor by Mr. Blodget and thank you.1 It seems uncertain where or how this will find you, therefore I shall not enclose the Cypher. When I know where a private hand may find you, I will send it so as to be secure. A person is nominated to take the place of the great man at Philada. who will leave it upon his arrival.2 You will probably get thither before him. We have no other local news. The report from England is, that Count d’Estaign is blockt up in Martinique;3 and that the Royalists have gaind a victory in Georgia. The first I am afraid is too true; the last as it comes thro N. York, it is to be hopd, is only a repetition of what we have already heard. Things look ominous—but we must hope the best. Adieu.

RC (Adams Papers).

124 March (above).

2A reference to Chevalier Anne César de la Luzerne’s appointment to replace Conrad Alexandre Gérard as French minister to the United States. La Luzerne, however, was apparently not officially ap­pointed until 5 April (William Emmett O’Donnell, The Chevalier de la Luzerne, Louvain, 1938, p. 42). JA may not have known to whom Lee was referring until he received Benjamin Franklin’s letter of 24 April (below). Yet Arthur Lee learned in Jan. 1779 that La Luzerne was to replace Gérard, for in a journal entry for the 24th, he wrote that “a gentleman of rank” had informed him that Luzerne had been named the new French minister, but “desired me to keep the information secret, as it was not yet known at Passy” (R. H. Lee, Arthur Lee description begins Richard Henry Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, Boston, 1829; 2 vols. description ends , 1:407).

La Luzerne, who enjoyed considerable success as minister to the United States, began his career in the military, but in 1776 accepted appointment to the Bavarian Court, where he remained until mid-1778, spending his last months deeply involved in the controversy over the Bavarian succession. Taking up his duties in America in Sept. 1779, he served until June 1784. In 1788 he was appointed ambassador to Great Britain, serving there until his death in 1791 (O’Donnell, Chevalier de la Luzerne, p. 40–42; Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale description begins J. C. F. Hoefer, ed., Nouvelle biographie générale depuis les temps les plus reculés jusqu’à nos jours, Paris, 1852–1866; 46 vols. description ends ; Repertorium der diplomatischen Vertreter aller Länder description begins Repertorium der diplomatischen Vertreter aller Länder seit dem Westfälischen Frieden (1648), ed. Ludwig Bittner and others, Oldenburg, &c., 1936–1965; 3 vols. description ends , p. 110, 144, 118). For JA’s sketch of La Luzerne, see his letter to the president of the congress, 3 Aug. (below).

3For such a report, see the London Chronicle, 25–27 March. After the loss of St. Lucia at the end of Dec. 1778, Estaing went to Martinique to refit and await reinforcements from France. There was little naval action in the West Indies until June, when the French launched an attack on St. Vincent, and no major fleet action until the encounter between Admirals Byron and Estaing off Grenada in July (Mahan, Navies in the War of Amer. Independence description begins Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Major Operations of the Navies in the War of American Independence, Boston, 1913. description ends , p. 104–106).

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