Adams Papers

Isaac Smith Sr. to John Adams, 6 May 1778

Isaac Smith Sr. to John Adams

Boston May the 6th. 1778

John Adams Esqr.

Hopeing this might find you safe Arrived, and haveing an Opportunity by Via Cadiz, thought itt might be Agreeable to let you know your family and friends are well.

A fleet from France is now Arriveing. The Dean Frigate with Young Cushing &c. is att Portsmouth.1 Mr. Dean was landed att the Eastward as you will know as the ship returnd.2—Tryon sent Out part of an Act to Govr. Trumbal. I have inclosed his Answer which is very spirited, and to the purpose, and is much Admired.3

You will probably have heard of the loss of the Alfred, Capt. Hinman, who with the Rawley Agreed to Attack two Ships of much less force—the Rawley haveing as many people as both the british ships. Hinman went to Attack them, According to Agreement, but the Rawley kept her Wind and never went to his Assistance and after engaging both Vessells sometime, he was Obliged to strike. So we go on with Continental ships, by all Accounts itt is a much worse Affair than McNeils.4

A ship of Warr is this day Arrived with duplicates of what Mr. Dean brought. We have Advise from Bilbao to the last of March and was in hopes to have heard of your Arrival.—Hopeing to here of your Arrival soon is the wish of Yr. Most hum. servt.,

Isaac Smith

RC (Adams Papers). For the enclosure (not found), see note 3. French translation, of selected sentences only (Archives Aff. Etr., Paris: Etats-Unis, Corr. pol., vol. 3), bears these notations: “Isaac Smith a John Adams. traduit de l’Anglois Interceptée”; reproduced in Stevens’ Facsimiles description begins B. F. Stevens’s Facsimiles of Manuscripts in European Archives Relating to America, 1773–1783, London, 1889–1898; 25 vols. description ends , No. 822. See descriptive note on Thaxter’s letter to JA, preceding; these two letters doubtless came by the same conveyance and may have been captured and recaptured before reaching their recipient.

1The Boston Gazette of 4 May reported the arrival at Portsmouth, N.H., of the Continental frigate Deane, Capt. Samuel Nicholson, on 1 May in nine weeks from France, bringing a cargo of military supplies from France and a number of passengers, including Thomas, son of Thomas Cushing Sr.

2Simeon Deane, bringing copies of the treaties with France to Congress, sailed home on the French frigate La Sensible and arrived at Falmouth (now Portland, Maine), on 13 April (Boston Gazette, 20, 27 April 1778).

3Probably Smith enclosed a printed handbill dated at Boston, 27 April: “The following Bills [i.e. North’s conciliatory bills], together with a Letter from Governor [William] Tryon to Governor [Jonathan] Trumbull, and his Answer thereto, came to Hand this Afternoon” (copy in MHi; Ford, Mass. Broadsides description begins Worthington C. Ford, comp., Broadsides, Ballads &c. Printed in Massachusetts, 1639–1800 (Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections, vol. 75), Boston, 1922. description ends , No. 2128).

4Hector McNeill (1728–1785), captain in the Continental Navy, commanded the frigate Boston when it was commissioned in 1776. Following an action in July 1777 in which his fellow officer Capt. John Manley, commanding the frigate Hancock, was captured, McNeill was court-martialed and suspended or dismissed from the service, and although subsequently the Continental Congress declined to carry out the sentence, McNeill did not serve again. Manley was acquitted. The trials of both officers were about to come on in Boston when the present letter was written. See Gardner W. Allen’s authoritative sketch of McNeill’s career, supported by extensive documentation, in MHS, Procs. description begins Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections and Proceedings. description ends , 55 (1921–1922):46–152.

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