Adams Papers

John Quincy Adams to John Adams, 30 Apr. 1797

The Hague April 30. 1797.

My Dear Sir

A few days after the date of my last Letter I received orders from the Secretary of State to take leave of this Government, and proceed upon the mission to Lisbon, and am now waiting only for an opportunity to go directly by a neutral vessel from Amsterdam. It was my earnest desire, from motives of peculiar concern to myself, to have taken my passage, by the way of England, but various circumstances concur to make it necessary for me to abandon that design, and to postpone my domestic arrangements to a more remote and a more tranquil period.

One of my friends at Paris has sent me an Extract from a Philadelphia Newspaper of March 6. containing an account of the commencement of the new Administration, and the speeches of the President and Vice-President upon their installation in their respective offices. It was impossible that any thing should give me a more soothing hope, a more pleasing consolation than the prospect of union and harmony between the two first Officers of the Government.—Of your sentiments indeed, I could need no formal declaration: I knew them very well; but the solemn assurance given by Mr: Jefferson, of his attachment to the Constitution; of his conviction concerning the importance of the Union, and of his esteem for you gave me a satisfaction the more pointed, because I had seen all the attempts which have been so long and so variously pursued to set at variance and opposition two characters, who have so often, been united in rendering the most important services to the common Country, and because I am profoundly convinced that there never was a time, or occasion which more imperiously called for a concert of the talents and virtues and influence of the most respected Citizens throughout the Union, to meet the trials that are preparing for us, or rather that are at this moment bearing upon us.

The french Directory have followed up their arreté of the 12th: Ventose, by others in a similar Spirit, and among the latest is one, forbidding any authority to recognize Passports given by Ministers of the United States.—Several captures and condemnations of vessels and cargoes, unquestionably American have taken place.—All the circumstances will without doubt be stated to you from the proper quarter.—In the [enclosed] newspaper of the 24th: there are several very important observations upon the subject, which I hope will not escape the notice, of our only remaining public character at Paris.

General Pinckney has been here about ten days, and has freely communicated with me, upon the state of affairs. The reason of the refusal to receive him is yet unaccounted for, and it is very plain that it was by some manoeuvre which took place subsequent to his arrival. To trace that manoeuvre to its probable origin is not difficult.—I believe it was not french.—Personalities of some kind or other were certainly concerned in it. Mr: Monroe has indeed enjoyed the favour of the french Government constantly, and to a very high degree. I have indeed been a little surprized to hear as coming from himself since his recall, that he had been treated for a long time with extraordinary coolness by them. This account is so different from all the unanimous accounts of the last Summer, stating how highly he possessed their confidence; so different from all that I have constantly heard and seen, from the very direct evidence that has been displayed to me of their benevolence towards him and patronage of him, that I could not help supposing the coolness about which we are now told, to be represented as strongly as the reality could warrant.—The Director Barras has indeed in a very formal manner declared their sense of Mr: Monroe’s merits, and very explicitly shewn what care had been taken by him to convince them how much he disapproved the measures and general policy of the Government which he represented.

If I am not misinformed there was in this transaction, not only a favouring but also an opposing personal disposition.—When Mr: Thomas Pinckney, passed through Paris on his way to Madrid, Mr: Monroe proposed to him, to communicate the Treaty with Great-Britain, (which was not then ratified, and was agreed to be kept secret until ratified,) to the Committee of Public Safety. Mr: Pinckney very properly declined making such a communication of what had been committed to himself in confidence.—The Committee of Public safety were at that time negotiating their Peace with Spain.—After that Peace was concluded, and before Mr: Pinckney’s treaty was signed, one of Mr: Monroe’s intimate friends told me that Mr: Monroe had assured him from his certain knowledge, that the Committee of Public Safety in their negotiation with Spain, had insisted upon the free Navigation of the Mississipi for us, as one of the conditions, until Mr: Pinckney passed through Paris, without communicating to them the English Treaty; after which they immediately gave up that point and concluded their Peace without it. . . . I shall remark further that at that time, this story was told with some sort of ostentation: it was one of the most powerful means used to make the british Treaty odious to Americans in Europe. No slight pains were taken to impress this idea; that the British Treaty had lost us the Navigation of the Mississipi, which would otherwise [have] been stipulated for us, as a new benefit of France: and all this to the certain knowledge of Mr: Monroe.—It so happened however that Mr: Pinckney made his Treaty, securing the said Navigation of the Mississipi, not as a charitable donation from France, but as a fair bargain in our own right. But ever since that time Mr: Pinckney has been disliked by the french ruling men of the day, as some of his diplomatic predecessors were disliked for a similar fidelity to the interests of their Country, by the Ministers of the french monarchy.—The Secretary to the Committee for foreign affairs here, said to me the other day in conversation, that he had never heard any thing indicating an opinion that General Pinckney’s dispositions were unfriendly to France; but that his brother was said to be anti-français.

I shall write you soon again, though I find myself at present somewhat hurried by my preparations for departure and am alone; for my brother, who has consented to go with me to Lisbon, has taken the only opportunity which may perhaps ever occur to him of paying a short visit to Paris. He has been gone about a fortnight, and I hope by the next Post to be informed of his arrival there.

Mr: Pitcairn has ever since my return from England been in constant correspondence with me, and has frequently given me interesting and valuable intelligence. My European correspondents have indeed of late required a large portion of my time, and had I continued longer here, I should have possessed advantages for gathering information, which I shall not enjoy at the place of my new destination.—I hope however, that I shall never remit my Industry, in the service of my Country, and I look forward with impatience to the time when I shall return to its bosom, to serve it in the walks of retirement and private life.

Since I began this Letter, I have received from the french Minister here official notice, that the preliminaries of Peace between France and the Emperor, are signed. I have already dispatched a copy of his Letter, giving this information, to the Secretary of State.

I am with every Sentiment of duty and affection, your Son

John Q. Adams.

RC (MHi: Adams Papers).

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