Edmé Jacques Genet to John Adams: A Translation
Versailles, 24 October 1778
I have translated for his Lordship, Comte de Vergennes, the sundry articles from the New York gazette which you will find in the enclosed fragment from an English gazette of 17 October. No doubt the next Courier de l’Europe will have a translation of these various documents. As a result, France will see only one side of the question, that which the British Commissioners choose to present, without, at the same time, seeing the American response because the American gazettes, which will undoubtedly contain suitable replies, will not reach Europe in time to be effective. I, therefore, take the liberty of asking you, not to reply in your own name, but simply to furnish me with notes from which I shall be able, in the soon to be published No. 58 of Affaires l’Angleterre, to combat the insulting assertions made by the British Commissioners against the Congress and its members, particularly respecting the article on the cartouche boxes of General Burgoyne’s army and the present state of these troops in Boston, &c.1
I will make them appear to be the reflections and observations of an unknown person, and, at least, our common enemies will not have the advantage of flooding Europe with their accusations against the Congress and France without an attempt to set people’s minds on the right track.
I am with respect, sir, your very humble and very obedient servant
P.S. The sooner you can send me your observations, the better.
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “M. Genet”; in CFA’s hand: “October 24th 1778.”
1. Genet printed French translations of the following items from Rivington’s Royal Gazette of 29 Aug. that had been reprinted in the London Chronicle of 15–17 Oct.: the Carlisle Commission’s protest of 7 Aug. to the congress against the detention of Burgoyne’s army; the congress’ declaration of 11 Aug. that it could no longer have any dealings with George Johnstone because of his attempts to bribe its members; Johnstone’s declaration of 26 Aug. that he would not act as a commissioner so that the negotiations might proceed; and the declaration by the Commission’s remaining members on 26 Aug. denying knowledge of Johnstone’s bribery attempts and asserting that the French alliance was a French attempt to frustrate the Commission’s purpose (Affaires de l’Angleterre et de l’Amerique, “Lettres,” vol. 12, cahier 50, p. ccvi–ccxlvi).
In this letter Genet was making particular reference to the statements in Johnstone’s declaration regarding the cartouche boxes and the retention of Burgoyne’s army “at Boston under every Indignity, contrary to the public Faith of a solemn Convention signed at Saratoga.” For the congress’ refusal to permit Burgoyne’s troops to depart, see JA’s reply to Genet of , and note 2 (below).
Genet followed his translations of the newspaper items with replies to the British allegations by three Americans resident in Paris. The third was JA’s; the other two were probably the work of Benjamin Franklin and Arthur Lee, for Lee received a letter from Genet dated 24 Oct. (MH-H: Lee Papers) that was very similar to that written to JA.