From James Lovell
Philada. 24th. Octr. 1778
I was not a little surprized Yesterday at seing a Letter from you to Mr. S. Adams by Mr. Archer,1 in which you make no sort of Acknowledgement of any of my numerous Scrawls; 14 or 15 have at least gone on the Way to you.
I have felt myself lately under the Necessity of letting you go by guess as to what we are doing here. Congress have the Papers of the Committee for foreign Affairs on their Table, and are taking their own Time to execute any Thing material for you to know; therefore I would not take upon myself to give you any Detail of those Matters, further than to say that the Presence of Mr. Deane and Mr. Carmichael seems rather to perplex than clear our Views. Those Gentlemen having been at Variance for a Season and now cordially reconciled, there is a sort of a Task in accommodating the Meaning of Expressions used at different Periods under the Influence of different Passions.2 The only Result of Interrogatories I forsee must therefore be the Loss of that Time which had better be spent in attending to our Finances. And here, by the Way, I must ask what are become of your Terrors on that Score. Not a Word of Finances in your Letter to Mr. S. A. Do you not know that our Depreciation of Currency is the main Stay of our Enemies. We must immediately Loan 60,000,000 out of Circulation and tax vigorously, or we shall be all afloat.
Can we not borrow in your Neighbourhood? But, you are a wrong Man to ask. You are averse to Debts abroad. Believe me, it is the general Opinion here that our Sons and Grandchildren ought rightfully to pay a Part of the Purchase we are now making for them. We must therefore contract abroad a Debt for the Payment of which a sinking Fund must be established here. This need not hinder us from rendering such a Provision repealable by the Sale of Property which may easily be acquired southward of Georgia and Eastward of the Province of Main.
I have been and am much unwell. I have escaped a settled nervous Fever by Care upon the most violent Symptoms. Writing hurts me. Your affectte. Frd. and Servt.
P.S. I find Congress has determined on something relative to Doctr. Franklin.3 Your Situation becoms the next immediate Objects. I will go abroad this Day tho little fit for Business. Your Honor and Happiness are dear to me and to many others. The Delay of republican assemblies is the only Thing against you. Your Character is esteemed. Your Ideas of distributing the Gentlemen abroad4 are the ruling Ideas here, and will be carried into Effect I am certain. I wish you had been as free in hinting your own Inclinations as some of the other Gentlemen have been. I doubt not your cordial Endeavors for friendly Intercourse with the different Commissioners, recommended by a Resolve of the 22d.5 (as before) yr.
RC (Adams Papers); docketed on the second page: “Mr Lovel. ans Feb. 13. 1779”; on the fourth page: “Mr. Lovel 24. Octr. 1778.”
1. Of 21 May (vol. 6:144–145, calendar entry; JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 4:106–108).
2. On 18 Sept., Richard Henry Lee informed the congress that he had information, probably obtained from Arthur Lee, that in the previous year William Carmichael had charged Silas Deane with the misuse of public funds as well as other improprieties adversely affecting the work of the Commissioners. On 22 Sept., Carmichael was ordered to testify and did so on 28 and 30 Sept. and 5 Oct. Although Carmichael had, in 1777, been at odds with Deane, by the time of his return to America in early 1778 he was involved in a major disagreement with Arthur Lee. This may explain why, as Lovell notes here, Carmichael’s testimony regarding Deane’s financial activities was so equivocal (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 12:927–928, 941–942, 964, 970, 984; Papers in Relation to the Case of Silas Deane, Phila., 1855, p. 141–149; Floyd B. Streeter, “The Diplomatic Career of William Carmichael,” Maryland Historical Magazine, 8:124–127 [June 1913]).
3. Benjamin Franklin was named minister plenipotentiary to France on 14 Sept., and his instructions were approved on 26 Oct. (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 12:908, 1039–1052). But this letter and others referring to Franklin’s new assignment, including those from Samuel Adams of 25 Oct., the Committee for Foreign Affairs of 28 Oct., and Richard Henry Lee of 29 Oct. (all below), did not reach JA until 12 Feb. 1779. The letters’ delay was owing to the difficulty of finding a safe means to send the news to France. This ultimately meant that these letters, as well as Franklin’s official notice of his appointment, were entrusted to Lafayette, who did not sail for France until early January (JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 2:353; president of the congress to Benjamin Franklin, 26 Oct., Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, Washington, 1889; 6 vols. description ends , 2:807–809). Therefore, despite being the earliest letters informing JA of Franklin’s new position, they were not the means by which he learned of the appointment. For that, see JA to James Lovell, 27 Nov. (below).