Adams Papers

From John Adams to Edmé Jacques Genet, 20 May 1780

To Edmé Jacques Genet

May 20. 1780

[Tha]nks for this Paper.1 Ld George Gordon I think will be the Oliver Cromwell, after all. He seems the only Man of Common sense, and he begins with Religion. Burke, Barry, Fox, Conway, &c and all the rest appear but small Boys to Lord George.

RC (Private owner, 1972). Fire damage has resulted in the loss of the first word and possibly the greeting, although the absence of a closing and signature suggests that it was a hastily written note, lacking the usual formalities. Genet is nowhere mentioned, but the note appears to be one of the letters from JA to Genet that suffered varying degrees of fire damage.

1The paper mentioned by JA has not been identified, but it may have been the Gazette de La Haye from which JA obtained the text of Conway’s speech of 5 May introducing his bill intended to end the American war that JA sent to the president of Congress in his second letter of 20 May (No. 70, calendared, below). The paper presumably also contained the speech of 5 May by Lord George Gordon, opposition member and leader of the Protestant Association, who within a few weeks would stand accused of fomenting the riots that swept London in early June. For the riots and Gordon’s role in them, see Thomas Digges’ letter of 8 June, and note 8 (below); for the speeches in response to Conway’s bill, see JA’s first letter of 20 May to the president of Congress (No. 69, calendared, below). Gordon rose both to second and to criticize Conway’s motion, saying that because it lacked any provision for granting independence to the colonies, Conway’s plan would fail, and thus share the fate of all previous efforts to end the American war (Parliamentary Hist. description begins The Parliamentary History of England, from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803, London, 1806–1820; 36 vols. description ends , 21:578–579). JA may have seen Gordon as the one opposition member willing to face reality and follow the only possible path to an Anglo-American peace.

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