Benjamin Franklin Papers
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To Benjamin Franklin from John Adams, 27 July 1784

From John Adams

Copy: Massachusetts Historical Society

The Hague July 27th 1784


I embrace the opportunity, by Mr: Bingham,1 to enclose to your Excellency, Copy of a Letter from Mr: Jefferson,2 by which it appears that we are joined in some affairs which will give me the Occasion to visit Paris once more, and reside there for some little time at least.

As Mr: Jefferson will not probably arrive before the latter End of August, and nothing can be done before he comes, I shall wait at the Hague for my Wife and Daughter, who are happily arrived in London,3 and endeavour to go with them, in Time to meet your Excellency and Mr: Jefferson upon his arrival at Paris.

The Philosophers are speculating upon our Constitutions and I hope will throw out Hints, which will be of Use to our Countrymen. The Science of Government as it is founded upon the genuine Principles of Society, is many Centuries behind that of most other Sciences, that of the fine Arts, as well as that of Trades and Manufactures. As it is the first in Importance it is to be hoped, it may overtake the rest, and that Mankind may find their Account in it. The Berlin Academician has set an Example, which if liberally followed, may produce great Effects, for I dont believe that many will find with him upon Examination that Despotism or even Monarchy is the best possible form of Government.4

They have sent me from Amsterdam, Copies of a Translation, of the Abby de Mably’s Letters, made by an English Episcopal Clergymen, at Amsterdam, whom I don’t know.5 I enclose one to your Excellency and have the Honour to be, with great Respect &c

Dr: Franklin.

1Richard Bingham, the son of Charles Bingham, Baron Lucan, whom JA recommended to Barclay as a “worthy youth”: Adams Papers, XVI, 284–5.

2TJ to JA, June 19: Adams Papers, XVI, 242–3. TJ’s letter to BF of the same date is above.

3They were in London by July 23: Adams Correspondence, v, 397–9.

4A reference to Sur la Forme des gouvernemens, et quelle en est la meilleure? ([Berlin], 1784) by the Prussian minister of state Ewald Friedrich Graf von Hertzberg, a member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences: Rudolf Vierhaus, ed., Deutsche Biographische Enzyklopädie (2nd ed.; 12 vols., Munich, 2005–8).

5The work in question was Observations on the Government and Laws of the United States of America, Translated from the French, of the Abbé de Mably, with a Preface by the Translator. JA asked the publisher for the name of the translator, whose preface he admired, and on the copy JA sent to BF (now at the Houghton Library of Harvard University) he wrote it as “Mr Sowden”: Adams Papers, XVI, xiii, 280; and see BF’s reply of Aug. 6. Mably’s work consisted of four letters addressed to JA, commenting on the American state constitutions: Adams Papers, XIV, 165–7, 172–81.

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