Adams Papers

Joseph Mathias Gérard de Rayneval to John Adams: A Translation, 20 June 1780

Joseph Mathias Gérard de Rayneval to John Adams: A Translation

Versailles, 20 June 1780

Mr. Adams would give great pleasure to Mr. de Rayneval if he would inform him if he knows an Englishman <named> who calls himself Montagu Fox and who he is.1 Mr. de Rayneval will be infinitely obliged to Mr. Adams.

RC (Adams Papers.)

1JA replied on 21 June that he had neither met Montagu Fox nor even heard his name (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 12), nor is there any evidence that the two men met after Fox reached Paris on 22 June. Since Fox had not yet arrived, Rayneval’s inquiry likely resulted from reports of Fox’s meetings with the French ambassador to The Hague at which he sought support for an armed uprising by disaffected miners in Cornwall. At Paris, Fox presented his proposals to Vergennes and Benjamin Franklin, but Franklin proved far more skeptical than Vergennes of Fox’s claim that leading members of the British opposition, such as Charles James Fox and Lord Shelburne, supported his efforts and that only allied financial and material support was needed to execute his plans successfully. In fact, Montagu Fox was likely a British spy seeking to induce the allies to undertake ambitious projects through which leading opposition figures might be discredited. Fox’s efforts ultimately failed to achieve that objective, but the failure was due more to Vergennes’ indecisiveness than anything else. For a lengthy account of Fox and his efforts to implement his proposals, see Morris, Peacemakers description begins Richard B. Morris, The Peacemakers: The Great Powers and American Independence, New York, 1965. description ends , p. 112–131.

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