Adams Papers

To John Adams from John Bondfield, 24 March 1782

From John Bondfield

Bordeaux 24 March 1782


Permit me to congratulate you on the progress which the vigorous resolves of the province of Frise informs us is taking to a publick acknowledgement of the american Independance as also of the late resolves of the British parlement.1 The Neutral Consuls at this Port construe the late Acts to a licence to their flag to transport Goods to the United States under the privalidge and restrictions observed in Europe and at present in the West Indies. I dined yesterday with the prussien Consul he is ready to embark deeply in conections with us so soon as licence is granted. We have upwards of one hundred Sail of neutral Ships in this port all which wish to be Charterd for America. The late resolves of Parlement is not a direct acknowledgement of Independance but under the present situation of Great Britain with the neutral powers a spirritted instruction from the Emperor or the King of Prussia to their Consuls would smoth the road. Every State are anxious to open Commercial Conections with us. You have brought Holland to your terms. The Confederated Neutrals are impowerd by their Union to Act without Control being satisfied there can be no longer a doubt of Americas ever returning under the Gouvernment of Great Britain. To obtain a Cessation of Hostilities and establish a firm and speedy Peace Spirritted resolves of all the European Nations is the most certain line. But these Neutrals reap such advantages that is more probable they will add feul to the Flame than attempt any measure to bring about a Conciliation.

We expect our Great West India fleet from St Domingo dayly. We are held in suspence by the various reports transmitted of the Operations at St. Kitts from Cadiz by a vessel that left martinico 29 Jany. The French possest the Island but Brimstone Hill was stil in possession of the English.2 I have the Honor to be with due respect Sir your most Obedient Humble Servant

John Bondfield

RC (Adams Papers).

1Bondfield presumably means Parliament’s resolutions of 27 Feb. to end the further prosecution of an offensive war in America and to declare those who acted contrary to that motion to be enemies of the King. During the debate on the second motion the issue had been raised, but not decided, as to what constituted the prosecution of an offensive 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 , 22:1099). Apparently the neutral consuls believed that the seizure of neutral ships trading with America would violate the resolutions and contemplated the sort of arrangement that was negotiated with the French by the residents of Nevis and Montserrat following the fall of St. Kitts. They were allowed to act as neutrals and export their produce on neutral ships (Mackesy, War for America description begins Piers Mackesy, The War for America, 1775–1783, Cambridge, 1965. description ends , p. 456). The British, however, contemplated no similar accommodation.

2See JA’s letter of 5 March from Robert R. Livingston, and note 5, above.

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