Adams Papers

To John Adams from Francis Dana, 29 September 1783

From Francis Dana

Elsineur Septr: 29th. 1783. N.S.

Dear Sir

I have already advised you of my determination to return to America. In pursuance of that I sailed in the Ship Kingston Capt: Norwood, from Cronstadt for Boston, on the 28th. of August O. Stile.1 We arrived here yesterday afternoon in good order, having been twenty days from Cronstadt, eight of which we lay in the Baltic harbour, about 60 Leagues from thence, wind bound. We shall sail from hence as soon as the wind will permit us. We touch in at some port in the channel, Portsmouth if practicable. Shou’d we have a rough passage from hence ’tis not improbable I may spend the Winter in England, chiefly with my brother,2 as We find on our arrival here, that the Definitive Treaties were concluded on the 2d. & 3d. of this month.3 and I am still that miserable wretch on the Seas you have seen me to be. I was not made for that unstable element, and we shall probably arrive on our Coast in the most dangerous season of the year. If I shou’d stop in England over the winter I will write you from thence for I do not expect you will suddenly return to America. If the information of the Gazettes which I read at St: Petersbourg may be depended upon, you are destined for the Court of London, but I doubt this from what you wrote me about your return.4 However we may be disposed of let us not forget each other. I beg you to remember me affectionately to Mr: Thaxter & your Son, and to believe me to remain with the most sincere and unalterable attachment your much obliged Friend and most obedient humble Servant


P.S. I have all your Son’s things with me— Mr: Allen is my fellow passenger & desires to be remembered to you & the family

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excelly: John Adams / Minister Plenipotentiary of the United-States.”; endorsed: “Mr Dana / Septr. 29. 1783.”

1In several letters written at the end of July, Dana indicated that he would be sailing on the Duchess of Kingston’s yacht (from Dana, [29 July], note 9, above). The Kingston reached Boston on Saturday, 13 December. However, the Boston Gazette of 15 Dec. reported that “Saturday [13 Dec.] arrived here the ship Empress of Russia in 91 days from Petersburgh (Russia) but last from the Downs, in 55 days— In her came passengers the Hon. Francis Dana, Esq.; Minister from the Congress of the United States of America, to the Court of Petersburgh, and Mr. Jeremiah Allen, of this town, merchant.” The vessel was in the Downs, a roadstead in the English Channel off Deal, England, on 15 Oct., when Dana wrote to his brother Edmund (MHi:Francis Dana Letterbooks, Private, 1782–1784). Note that in a portion of AA’s 7 Dec. letter written on the 13th, she says that Dana arrived on the 12th (AFC description begins Adams Family Correspondence, ed. L. H. Butterfield, Marc Friedlaender, Richard Alan Ryerson, Margaret A. Hogan, and others, Cambridge, 1963–. description ends , 5:277). The vessel’s identification—repeated in the 18 Dec. Boston Independent Chronicle—as the Empress of Russia is puzzling, but any explanation would be purely speculative in view of the official report of vessels entering or clearing the port of Boston in the 22 Dec. Boston Gazette that identified the ship as the Kingston, Capt. Norwood, from St. Petersburg.

2Dana’s brother was Rev. Edmund Dana (1739–1823), a Harvard graduate and vicar of Wroxeter in England. He had gone to England in 1763 to study medicine, but after his marriage to Helen, daughter of the 6th Baron Kinnaird, he took up the ministry (Sibley’s Harvard Graduates description begins John Langdon Sibley, Clifford K. Shipton, Conrad Edick Wright, Edward W. Hanson, and others, Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge and Boston, 1873–. description ends , 14:414–418).

3That is, the Anglo-Dutch preliminary treaty was signed on 2 Sept. 1783, while the definitive treaties between Britain, France, Spain, and the United States were signed on the 3d.

4It is impossible to know what reports Dana had seen, but considering the date of his departure from St. Petersburg, they might have been similar to the erroneous one appearing in the 5 Aug. London Morning Herald and Daily Advertiser. There it was reported that “Mr. Adams is arrived in London on the part of the American Congress; he will not, for some time, be introduced at St. James’s in his Ministerial capacity; but will appear in that situation immediately after the ratification of peace.”

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