Adams Papers

From John Adams to Edmé Jacques Genet, 18 February 1780

To Edmé Jacques Genet

[Paris Hotel de Valois Feby. 18th 1780]

[Dear Sir]

Whether it is that [the Art of political Lying] is better understood in England than in [any other Country, or] whether it is more practised there than [elsewhere, or whether it] is accidental that they have more Success [in making their Fictions] gain Credit in the World, I know not.

But it is certain that every [Winter, since the] Commencement of the present War with America, [and indeed for some] Years before, they sent out large Quantities of this [Manufacture over] all Europe, and throughout all America: and [what is astonish]ing is, that they should still find Numbers [in every Country] ready to take them off their Hands.

Since my Arrival in this City, [I find they have] been this Winter at their old Trade, and have [spread Reports here] and in Holland, and in various other parts of [Europe; and no doubt] they have found means to propagate them in America [too, tending to keep] up the Spirits of their Well wishers and to sink those of [their Opponents.] Such as, that they have made new Contracts with several [German Princes,] by which they are to obtain seven thousand Men to [serve in America.] That they have so skillfully appeased the Troubles in [Ireland, that they] shall even be able to take Advantage of the Military [Associations] there, by depending upon them for the Defence of [the Kingdom, while] they draw from thence ten thousand Regular Troops [for the Service] in America. That they have even concluded a [Treaty with Russia,] by which the Empress is to furnish them with twelve Ships [of the] Line and twenty thousand Men, as some say, and twenty [Ships] of the Line and twelve thousand Men, as others relate. [This] they say, is of the greater Moment, because of an intimate Connection (I know not of what Nature it is) between Russia [and Denmark, by which] the latter will be likely [to be drawn into the War against the] House of Bourbon and America [and Denmark they say has] forty five Ships of the Line.

I know very well that the greatest part of these [Reports is false,] and particularly, what is said of Russia is so contrary [to all that I have] heard for these twelve Months past, of the [Harmony between] Versailles and Petersbourg, that I give no Credit to [it at all: but I] find that all these Reports make Impressions [on some Minds,] and, among the rest, on some Americans.

I therefore beg the favour of You, to inform me [of the exact] Truth in all these Matters, that I may take the [earliest] Opportunity of transmitting the Intelligence to Congress, [where it] is of Importance, that it should be known.1

I was much mortified, when I was the other [day at] Versailles, that I could not have the Honour of paying [my Res]pects to You: but I was so connected with other Gentlemen, [who were] obliged to return to Dinner, that I could not; but I [shall] take the first Opportunity I can get, to wait on You, and [assure] You, that I am with great Respect, Sir, your Friend and humble Servant.

John Adams

RC in John Thaxter’s hand (Justin G. Turner, Los Angeles, 1958). Dupl in Thaxter’s hand (PCC, No. 84, I, f. 257–260);) docketed: “Copy Feb. 18. 1780 Letter from J Adams to Monsr. Genet recd. May 15 with an answr. dated 20th. Feb.” Severe fire damage to the recipient’s copy has resulted in the loss of a substantial number of words, which have been supplied in brackets from the duplicate.

1Using very similar language, JA asked Lafayette for essentially the same information in a letter of this same date (LbC, Adams Papers). Lafayette replied on the 19th (below).

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