Benjamin Franklin Papers
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To Benjamin Franklin from John Adams, 5 December 1783

From John Adams

Copy: Massachusetts Historical Society

London Dec. 5. 1783.


Commodore Jones is just arrived from Philadelphia with Dispatches. 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.9

Mr Jay and Mr Laurens are at Bath, and the Bearer is inclined to go on to Paris.1 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,2 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 some time. I have just recd a Letter from Willink & Co which Shews that Money is exhausted & Credit too. He incloses me his Letter to you,3 but I fear you will not be able to assist him. With great respect &c

Dr Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9John Paul Jones sailed on the General Washington. Capt. Joshua Barney had orders to put him ashore wherever he wished before continuing to France: Morison, Jones, p. 337; Hulbert Footner, Sailor of Fortune: the Life and Adventures of Commodore Barney, U.S.N. (New York and London, 1940), pp. 151–2. JA was mistaken about the packet addressed to BF; it contained not the commission, but rather Boudinot’s private letter to BF of Nov. 1 (above) with its enclosures. See BF’s reply to JA of Dec. 10.

1Jones proceeded immediately to France, hoping to obtain prize money owed the officers and crews of his former ships. He would remain there for more than three years: Morison, Jones, pp. 336–8.

2For the resolution see XL, 178–80.

3Above, [Nov. 30]. The letter to JA from the consortium of Dutch bankers was dated Dec. 2: Adams Papers, XV, 382–5.

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