The Comte de Vergennes to the Commissioners: A Translation
Versailles 20 April 17781
I received, gentlemen, the letter that you did me the honor to write yesterday pointing out the advantages of providing convoys for the security of your vessels leaving for America. This matter concerns M. de Sartine only, I am therefore forwarding a translation of your letter to him and will send you his reply without delay.2 I have the honor to be with very perfect consideration, sirs, your very humble and very obedient servant.
LbC (Adams Papers).
1. This letter bears the earliest date of those copied into Lb/JA/6 (Microfilms, Reel No. 94) and represents part of JA’s effort to bring order to the Commissioners’ affairs. This Letterbook contains 41 letters from Vergennes and Sartine, between 20 April 1778 and 9 Jan. 1779. This and two other Letterbooks (Lb/JA/7 and 8, Microfilms, Reel Nos. 95, 96) were purchased from the stationer Cabaret, “Au Griffon Rue de Bussy,” probably in late May and may have been among the “few necessary Books” paid for by JA on 23 May (Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 2:328). For a reproduction of Cabaret’s elegant trade card, appearing inside of the front covers of the Letterbooks, see Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 2:facing 291.
JA’s failure to copy letters in chronological order until after 14 July and his leaving 34 pages blank preceding the first letter copied probably indicate that by mid-July he decided to record letters received from Vergennes and Sartine and to review the Commissioners’ files and copy other letters previously received. His intention was not, however, realized, for many such letters were not copied. In writing his Autobiography, JA consulted a number of the letters contained in this Letterbook and incorporated them into the text, often as English translations.