Adams Papers

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 8 November 1782

John Adams to Abigail Adams

Paris November 8. 1782

My dearest Friend

The King of Great Britain, by a Commission under the great Seal of his Kingdom, has constituted Richard Oswald Esqr. his Commissioner to treat with the Ministers Plenipotentiary of the United States of America, and has given him full Powers which have been mutually exchanged. Thus G.B. has Shifted Suddenly about, and from persecuting Us with unrelenting Bowells, has unconditionally and unequivocally acknowledged Us a Sovereign State and independant Nation. It is surprizing that she should be the third Power to make this Acknowledgment. She has been negotiated into it, for Jay and I peremptorily refused to Speak or hear, before We were put upon an equal Foot. Franklin as usual would have taken the Advice of the C[omte] de V[ergennes] and treated, without, but nobody would join him.1

As to your coming to Europe with Miss Nabby, I know not what to say. I am obliged to differ in Opinion so often from Dr. Franklin and the C. de Vergennes, in Points that essentially affect the Honour Dignity and most prescious Interests of my Country, and these Personages are so little disposed to bear Contradiction, and Congress have gone so near enjoining upon me passive Obedience to them,2 that I do not expect to hold any Place in Europe longer than next Spring. Mr. Jay is in the Same Predicament, and So will every honest Man be, that Congress can Send.3

Write however to Mr. Jackson in Congress4 and desire him candidly to tell you, whether he thinks Congress will continue me in Europe, upon Terms which I can Submitt to with honour, another Year. If he tells you as a Freind that I must Stay another Year, come to me, in the Spring with your Daughter. Leave the Boys in good Hands and a good school. A Trip to Europe, for one Year may do no harm to you or your Daughter. The Artifices of the Devil will be used to get me out of the Commission for Peace. If they succeed I abandon Europe for ever, for the Blue Hills without one Instants Loss of Time or even waiting for Leave to return. For whoever is Horse Jockeyed,5 I will not be.—Congress means well, but is egregiously imposed upon and deceived.

Mrs. Jay and Mrs. Izard will be excellent Companions for you and the Miss Izards for Miss Nabby.6

RC (Adams Papers). Dupl in Charles Storer’s hand (Adams Papers). LbC in Storer’s hand (Adams Papers). The RC is written on one large sheet folded in half to make four pages. JA’s letter takes up three pages and the fourth contains a letter of the same date from Storer to AA (below). It was dispatched on 13 Nov. to Capt. Barney, commander of the packet Washington, which was destined for Philadelphia (note in Thaxter’s hand at end of the LbC; Thaxter to AA, 10 Nov., below). The Dupl is contained in a second letter dated 8 Nov. from Storer to AA. Storer prefaces it by explaining that he made the Dupl without instructions from JA, and that to make delivery more certain, he was sending it by another conveyance. He describes the attending circumstances: “Mr. A. has just now laid a letter upon my table—’Here, Messieurs, says he, have you a mind to see love and business united? Read that then.’ An agreable assemblage truly, Sir—and indeed Madam so it was—at least as it affected me.”

1JA overstates his own role in bringing the British to make this concession. Although Jay offered Oswald compromise language before JA arrived from Holland, and without first consulting Franklin, he did later discuss the new language with Franklin, whose fear was that the American negotiators, by proceeding without the knowledge of France, were violating their instructions. Franklin felt that insistence upon a change in the wording of Oswald’s commission (that implicitly, if not in legal form, would recognize American in­dependence) was not significant enough to delay peace. Jay’s success, however, removed Franklin’s doubts (see JA to AA, 12 Oct., note 3; JA to AA, 16 Oct., both above).

2By altering his 1779 instructions as sole negotiator for peace. See vol. 4:163–164, note 4.

3This sentence appears to have been inserted after the text of the letter was complete.

4Jonathan Jackson, a Newburyport merchant, served in Congress from July to October, and then resigned his seat (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 22:371; 23:669 [Jackson’s last recorded vote]; Cotton Tufts to JA, 10 Oct., note 12, above; vol. 4:376– 377).

5That is, cheated or dealt with fraudulently (OED description begins The Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford, 1888–1972; 12 vols. and supplements. description ends , under “Jockey”).

6From its appearance, this sentence appears to have been added as an afterthought. When Ralph Izard, formerly commissioner to Tuscany, was recalled and returned to the United States in 1780, his wife, Alice De Lancey, and at least two of their daughters stayed on in France until 1783. The daughters were Margaret, age fourteen in 1782, Charlotte, age twelve, and Elizabeth and Anne, ages five and three. (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936; 20 vols. plus index and supplements. description ends ; JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 3:46; South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine, 2:216–217 [July 1901].)

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