From John Cranch
Axminster in Devonshire 11. Febr; 1784.
As there is so little temptation, at present, to an englishman, to pay any attention to the wretched political informations of his country, you will have the goodness to pardon me, Sir, if, not knowing whether you have a public character at the Hague, I am so ignorant as not to know if I have misaddressed you: At the same time, I must confess, that no punctilio of ceremony will restrain me from paying an instant & gratefull attention to the honor of your commands signified by your letters of the 31st. ult; brought me by this day’s post—
The letter I formerly mentioned to you is copied in the inclosed paper; but on reconsidering it, I must own I rather incline to recant those confident expressions of it’s importance, in which I at first (in the zeal of my benevolence) propos’d it to your notice.1
I will detain you no longer than to add, that could I have conceived a great minister of state to be accessible on the common terms of urbanity, like Mr. Adams—I would not have so long delayed, & consequently at last disappointed myself of the honor of, paying my respects to you in person:
I am, with the highest esteem, Sir, your obliged, / obedient and humble Servant
May I expect, my dear Sir, ever to have the pleasure of hearing from you again?
RC and enclosure (Adams Papers); addressed: “To / The Honorable John Adams,”; endorsed: “Mr J. Cranch / 11 Feb. 1784.”
1. John Cranch was a lawyer and nephew of JA’s brother-in-law Richard Cranch. On 17 Jan. he wrote to JA indicating that he had received an “interesting” letter from an acquaintance, Thomas Hopkins, written at Casco Bay, the site of Falmouth, Mass. (now Portland, Maine). Replying on 31 Jan., JA asked Cranch to send a copy of the letter. Hopkins was a British merchant who had gone to America with goods to sell and, more importantly, with the intention of investigating the possibilities for Anglo-American trade. He spent considerable time at Boston and visited Richard Cranch at Braintree. It was Cranch who encouraged him to go to Falmouth, where he was able to dispose profitably of his merchandise. There Hopkins found a thriving port, populated by an industrious people with access to abundant resources, including lumber, fish, and furs. He concluded that America offered unmatched opportunities for commerce and lamented, “Foolish Britain, wretched country—what hast thou lost?” (vol. 15:459–460, 473–474).